NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg provided the press with a preview of subjects for discussion at this year’s Defense Ministerial, slated to begin on Thursday in Brussels.  Among the topics up for discussion, Stoltenberg explained, are how the alliance is evolving and, a topic of serious concern for the United States, how funding is expected to increase.

The Defense Ministerial, which will see American Secretary of Defense James Mattis representing the United States, is supposed to compliment the NATO Heads of State and Government meetings held last month, in which state leaders agreed to step up the alliance’s efforts against terrorism, as well as work to more fairly share the financial burdens of the organization.  NATO’s guidelines require that each member state devote no less than two percent of its national GDP (gross domestic product) to defense, though only five of the now 29 members actually do so – with the United States serving as the largest spender by far.

NATO’s newest member, Montenegro, joined the alliance earlier this month, despite already failing to meet the financial requirement for membership.

“After years of decline, in 2015 we saw a real increase in defense spending across European allies and Canada,” Stoltenberg said. “In 2016, this continued. And, this year in 2017, we foresee an even greater annual real increase of 4.3 percent.”