Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The United States will reduce its financial contribution to NATO in a largely symbolic gesture announced a week before the military bloc's annual summit.
Member nations agreed to a new formula for NATO's common funding, under which the United States will pay about 16 percent of the alliance's budget, a drop from the current 22 percent. It amounts to a reduction of about $150 million, funding that covers the cost of NATO's Brussels headquarters and limited military operations.
The bulk of NATO's budget comes from voluntary payments and in-kind contributions, such as the deployment of personnel and equipment of member nations, based on the NATO goal of each member spending at least two percent of its gross domestic product on defense. NATO's military budget in 2019 is $1.56 billion.
Only seven countries in the 29-nation bloc -- the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece, Estonia, Romania, Poland and Latvia -- currently meet that threshold.
European members and Canada will see their cost shares increase while that of the United States will decline, an unidentified NATO official said Wednesday. The information comes prior to the 70th anniversary NATO summit in London on Dec. 3 and 4. President Donald Trump plans to attend the meeting.
Trump has insisted that other NATO countries pay more for their defense since the 2016 presidential campaign. He has also expressed doubts on NATO's viability and value as it approaches its 70th year of operation.
Founded in 1949 at the end of World War II, in an environment of communist expansion in Europe and a fear that missiles of the Soviet Union could reach North America, a program of common defense was undertaken by its 12 founding members.
A report this week by prominent London-based researcher Royal United Services Institute underscored NATO's limitations. It suggests that British ground forces would be "completely outgunned" by Russian forces in a potential conflict in Western Europe, and that "enemy artillery [would be] free to prosecute fire missions with impunity."
The analysis of British ground forces' capability acknowledged that a direct war with Russia is unlikely, but urged Britain to invest more heavily in artillery and precision-guided weapons.
A response from Britain's Ministry of Defense noted confidence in its own abilities but added that "the U.K. does not stand alone but alongside its NATO allies, who work closely together across air, sea, land, nuclear and cyber to deter threats and respond to crises."