Trump's defense chief rules out "cost plus 50" demand of allies

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan stands behind the witness table at a congressional hearing
Shanahan at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan says the Trump administration will not ask allies who host U.S. troops to pay the full cost of hosting plus an extra 50 percent for the privilege of having American soldiers on their soil.

Why this matters: Democrats and Republicans in both chambers were alarmed when Bloomberg reported last week that "under White House direction, the administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil — plus 50 percent or more for the privilege of hosting them."

Expert Voices

Mattis exit further destabilizes Trump administration's foreign policy

Secretary Mattis at a lectern
Defense Secretary Mattis at the Pentagon on Nov. 28, 2018. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced Thursday that he will step down, after two difficult years in which he and President Trump were often not on the same page. Mattis underscored their differences in his resignation letter, telling Trump he had the right to a defense secretary with more closely aligned views.

Why it matters: Mattis was a traditionalist who believed in an international order led by the United States, in respecting and supporting its allies, and in keeping its commitments. His departure leaves the administration without an experienced, centrist foreign policy hand.