NATO Members Have Sharply Reduced Troop Levels Over the Past Three Decades

According to Statista, countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have sharply reduced their troop levels over the past few decades. Germany and Italy are the countries who have implemented the most significant reductions. Both have cut their troops by 65% since 1990. 

Other countries such as France (62%), Spain (53%), Turkey (42%), the United Kingdom (49%), and the United States (38%) have cut their troop levels as well, albeit at a slower pace. 

Due to the outbreak of a war between Russia and Ukraine, NATO members are now expected to increase military spending and boost their troop numbers in the upcoming years. Several media outlets have reported that defense leaders from the 30 NATO member nations have called on NATO’s leaders to craft plants to strengthen the alliance’s deterrence in the face of a resurgent Russia. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg already announced plans to station more forces in the Baltic and Eastern European member nations of the alliance. On top of that, NATO will also be strengthening air and naval forces in addition to defense and space capabilities.

NATO was originally founded in 1949 to provide a geopolitical balance against the Soviet Union in Europe throughout the Cold War. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, it was expected that NATO would be rolled back given how the Russian Federation was nowhere near as powerful as the Soviet Union and its satellite states in the Warsaw Pact. 

However, NATO began to incorporate former Warsaw Pact nations and former Soviet republics during the late 1990s. The first tranche of NATO expansion consisted of Czechia, Hungary, and Poland in 1999. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia were subsequently added in 2004. Albania and Croatia were added in 2009 during the administration of Barack Obama, while Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020) joined NATO under former President Donald Trump’s watch. 

NATO now has 30 member nations within its fold. 

While concerns about a rising Russia are valid for Eastern and Central European countries, who have been historically subjugated by the Soviet Union and Imperial Russia are valid, continuing to be a NATO member is no longer in the US’s interest. 

Instead, the US should focus more of its national defense strategy in the Western Hemisphere and on the southern border. Populist Republican candidates should make it a point in their respective campaigns to run on platforms calling for the US’s withdrawal from NATO. 

With so many problems at home and an existential crisis at our southern border, staying in NATO and assuming the function of being the primary defense provider in Europe is no longer sustainable. 

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