Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET
Three days before leaders gathered in London to mark the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in London, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed a new twist in the organization's expense burden sharing — an apparent conciliatory bone tossed to a cost-obsessed President Trump.
"It's correct that we have now agreed a new formula for sharing those costs," Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. "The U.S. will pay less. Germany will pay more. So now the U.S. and Germany will pay the same, roughly 16% of NATO's budget."
For the U.S., the adjustment means that starting in 2021, it will be paying $150 million less for NATO's annual $2.5 billion maintenance than the approximately $550 million it currently contributes.
But those savings pale in comparison to what has been — despite Trump's frequent criticism of NATO's cost-sharing formula — a sizeable increase in U.S. outlays for military operations in Europe since he took office.
Most of that jump in spending was on the European Deterrence Initiative, an effort to strengthen U.S. military forces in Europe begun by the Obama administration in response to Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and continued backing of pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine.
The higher American troop levels in Europe stand in contrast to an overall reduction of U.S. military personnel posted overseas during the Trump administration. There were nearly 240,000 active duty and reserve members of the U.S. military abroad when President Barack Obama left office. That number has gone down steadily since then, and now stands at around 195,000 — a 19% decline in U.S. forces deployed abroad.
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