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New Pentagon head to push NATO on military spending

Scott Tong Jun 24, 2019
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A car drives past graffiti reading "Thank you NATO" and featuring the U.S. flag near the village of Stagovo, Kosovo, on March 24.
ARMEND NIMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Mark Esper takes over Monday as acting secretary of defense, and this week at a NATO meeting he will continue the Trump administration’s push for trans-Atlantic allies to boost defense spending to the alliance goal of 2% of gross domestic product. Esper will focus on “more equitable burden sharing,” according to a Pentagon statement.

Already there has been movement toward the goal. Several NATO members increased military investments following escalation with Russia over the past few years, said defense analyst Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners. It’s part of a decadelong upward trend, following a post-Cold War period of “peace dividend” spending declines, said Rachel Rizzo, fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

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