Burden-Sharing with Allies: Examining the Budgetary Realities

America’s global alliance system has for decades provided the foundation for peace, security, and prosperity. One important contribution of key allies in Europe and Asia is hosting U.S. military bases. The American military presence provides not only for the defense of our allies but also plays an integral role in securing U.S strategic interests around the world.

With revanchist Russian aggression and the renewed importance of the NATO alliance in Europe and the Chinese military build-up and North Korean nuclear ambition in Asia, the importance of the peacetime U.S. military presence in Germany, Japan, and South Korea has perhaps never been clearer.

Through both in-kind contributions and direct cash payments, U.S. allies spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to support American military bases in their countries. Security alliances go far beyond basic calculations of money and resources to considerations of strategy and interests.  America’s overseas military presence is not just to protect allies around the world but also to secure U.S. strategic interests. In this regard, the benefit to the United States is incalculable. It is worth the 2 percent of the defense budget America currently spends to support its overseas military presence.

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