Increased Cost Sharing for U.S. Forces in Europe Needs a More Systematic Approach

Gao ID: C-ID-81-3 January 19, 1981

The question of whether North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies should share more U.S. station costs and if so, how much, has not been resolved. Supporting military and related civilian personnel stationed in Europe is costly. Congress has indicated a strong desire to reduce this financial burden by encouraging the President to seek increased peacetime host nation cost sharing. However, the Departments of Defense and State are attempting to commit host nations to provide wartime support and improve allied defense capabilities.

Currently, host nations contribute directly and indirectly to support U.S. forces. Neither State nor Defense routinely monitors the types and amount of support provided. Increasing host nation contributions is possible without renegotiating the status of force agreements. Past cost sharing programs have included the rehabilitation and construction of defense-related facilities and various types of cost sharing arrangements to ease U.S. stationing costs. The U.S. share of the NATO infrastructure facility construction program has decreased. Several other arrangements have provided needed facilities to the United States at less than full cost. The NATO Status of Forces Agreement and the Supplementary Agreement are generally not considered to be cost sharing arrangements. The Status of Forces Agreement allows for separate bilateral arrangements between the United States and its host nations. The Supplementary Agreement specifies many financial obligations for the United States, including construction, maintenance of facilities, design and engineering fees, labor payroll administration charges, operating expenses, and public charges for the use of property. The United States potentially could lose favorable provisions if it attempted to inject cost sharing arrangements into these agreements and could become involved in complicated and time consuming multilateral negotiations. Peacetime cost sharing might be possible in the areas of facility and housing construction, pollution abatement, local national payroll, taxes and service charges, and damage claims.


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