"Burden sharing" will be a key theme at the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels next week, though President Trump will not explicitly threaten to withdraw American troops if European nations fail to pledge to increase military spending, according to senior U.S. officials who briefed reporters today.
U.S. Representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said there are no plans to decrease or remove the approximately 32,000 U.S. troops stationed in Germany, despite media reports that Trump is considering it.
"Every one of our allies are already increasing defense spending," she said. "That is something we will talk about as an achievement, but also recognize we need to do more."
Instead, Hutchison focused on the new NATO command structure and readiness initiatives drawn up by Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the chief of U.S. European Command and the supreme allied commander of NATO.
The plan, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed June 7 in Brussels, involves establishing two joint NATO commands: one in Ulm, Germany, and the other in Norfolk, Virginia.
Hutchison said the new "hubs" will help ease logistics across the Atlantic and in Europe to allow for the new "Four 30s" readiness initiative, which calls for having 30 combat ships, 30 mechanized battalions and 30 air squadrons ready for deployment to protect NATO allies in 30 days or less by 2020.
Hutchison said the administration's focus on "burden sharing" with NATO allies to increase military spending will "make us more fit for purpose" to address the "malign" actions of Russia, the rapid rise of China and ongoing counterterrorism missions.
Meanwhile, Trump is expected to meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.
Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, told reporters the administration is viewing the meeting "with eyes wide open," but that "you can't solve problems by not talking about them."
"The ball is really in Russia's court, and the president will continue to hold Russia responsible for its malign activity," Huntsman said.