- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Pentagon is sidelining a White House proposal designed to require U.S. allies to pay more for U.S. military deployments in the Pacific, the department’s top official overseeing the region told Congress Wednesday.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Randall Schriver told the House Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon’s current cost-sharing deals with Pacific allies have benefited both sides and would not be adjusted.

“I think the deals that have been struck have been mutually beneficial,” Mr. Schriver told the panel, testifying alongside U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Phil Davidson and Gen. Robert Abrams, head of all U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula.

Lawmakers pressed Mr. Schriver on whether the Pentagon would begin implementing the Trump White House’s so-called “Cost plus 50” proposal, requiring allies to finance all costs tied to U.S. military deployments, plus 50 percent on top of that, for having American troops on their soil.

Under the new plan, some allies could be expected to pay as much as five to six times more than the current contributions paid to the Pentagon. Iraqi lawmakers have cited Mr. Trump’s demands for more money as the driving factor behind proposed plans to expel all foreign troops from the country.

Asked Wednesday whether future cost-sharing negotiations between the U.S. and allies like South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and others would be guided by the “cost plus 50” formula, Mr. Schriver replied: “It will not be based on that formula,” saying there had been no “formal guidance” from acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan or the White House to change the formula.

During the negotiations with Seoul that ended in a one-year increase in South Korea’s payment, Mr. Trump at one point suggested that all American forces would leave if a deal could not be reached.

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