Daily on Defense: 70% of NATO meets 2% goal, Putin in Pyongyang, Houthis continue to terrorize commercial shipping in Red Sea

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SEVENTY PERCENT OF NATO NATIONS HIT 2% GOAL: No one has done more to spur NATO nations to go on a military spending spree than Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin's invasion of Ukraine and the threat it poses to Europe, especially countries that share a border with Russia such as Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Finland, has goosed NATO defense spending to record levels.

"Today, we are able to publish new figures for defense spending. They show that across Europe and Canada, NATO allies are, this year, increasing defense spending by 18%. That's the biggest increase in decades," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said as he sat down to meet with President Joe Biden in the White House Oval Office on Monday. 

"And 23 allies are going to spend 2% GDP or more on defense this year," he added. "That's more than twice as many as four years ago and demonstrates that European allies and Canada are really stepping up."

Under an agreement reached at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014, member nations had 10 years to meet the 2% of GDP goal. Fewer than a third of the countries were on track to meet the 2024 deadline until Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022.

HOW SPENDING STACKS UP: Here's the ranking of all 32 nations, which NATO said is based on "payments by a national government that have been or will be made during the course of the fiscal year to meet the needs of its armed forces, those of allies or of the alliance." NATO said the numbers for 2023 and 2024 are estimates. Iceland is a NATO ally but does not have a military.

  1. Poland: 4.32%
  2. Estonia: 3.43%
  3. United States: 3.38%
  4. Latvia: 3.15%
  5. Greece: 3.08%
  6. Lithuania: 2.85%
  7. Finland: 2.41%
  8. Denmark: 2.37%
  9. United Kingdom: 2.33%
  10. Romania: 2.25%
  11. North Macedonia: 2.22%
  12. Norway: 2.20%
  13. Bulgaria: 2.18%
  14. Sweden: 2.14%
  15. Germany: 2.12%
  16. Hungary: 2.11%
  17. Czechia: 2.10%
  18. Turkey: 2.09%
  19. France: 2.06%
  20. Netherlands: 2.05%
  21. Albania: 2.03%
  22. Montenegro 2.02%
  23. Slovakia: 2.00%
  24. Croatia: 1.81%
  25. Portugal: 1.55%
  26. Italy: 1.49%
  27. Canada: 1.37%
  28. Belgium: 1.30%
  29. Luxembourg: 1.29%
  30. Slovenia: 1.29%
  31. Spain: 1.28%

IT'S NOT JUST THE 2%, IT'S THE 20%: An often overlooked but perhaps more important metric is what percentage of each country's defense budget goes for weapons, equipment, and other capabilities, such as ships and aircraft. The 2% aggregate defense spending can include things such as salaries and pensions to retirees, which don't directly translate into combat capabilities. Under the NATO guidelines, at least 20% of each country’s military budget should be spent on equipment.

By that measure, all but two countries, Canada and Belgium, meet the 20% standard. Poland, which has been buying expensive U.S. weapons, including F-35 fighter jets, spends more than 50% of its budget on hardware. Sixteen countries spend more than 30%, with Hungary, Albania, and Finland spending more than 45%. The U.S. comes in at 19th, spending 29.9%, just ahead of Denmark, and just behind Norway. Germany lags the U.S. at 28.7%. France comes in at 28.4%, while the U.K. is ahead of the U.S., spending 36.1% on weapons. 



Good Tuesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre's Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Stacey Dec. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at DailyonDefense.com. If signing up doesn't work, shoot us an email and we'll add you to our list. And be sure to follow me on Threads and/or on X @jamiejmcintyre


HAPPENING TODAY — PUTIN IN PYONGYANG: Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting North Korea for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century as he is increasingly desperate to obtain weapons and ammunition for his costly war in Ukraine.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is planning a welcome for Putin featuring a display of military troops, and North Korea's state-controlled media were full of platitudes for Putin's visit, his first since 2000.

"Putin’s visit to the DPRK will add a brilliant page to the history of friendship and solidarity between the peoples of the two countries and give fresh vitality to the development of the good-neighborly cooperative relations between the two countries," said the Korean Central News Agency. The newspaper Rodong Sinmun called the state visit "a significant occasion of weighty significance" that elevates the relationship between the two countries to a "new high stage."

Putin is going on "a little bit of a charm offensive," John Kirby, White House national security communications adviser, told reporters yesterday. "We’re not concerned about the trip. What we are concerned about is the deepening relationship between these two countries — not just because of the impacts it’s going to have on the Ukrainian people, because we know North Korean ballistic missiles are still being used to hit Ukrainian targets, but because there could be some reciprocity here that could affect security on the Korean Peninsula."

"Now, we haven’t seen the parameters of all of that right now, certainly haven’t seen it come to fruition, but we’re certainly going to be watching that very, very closely," Kirby said.

HOUTHIS ABLE TO HIT COMMERCIAL SHIPS: Just about every day, the U.S. Central Command puts out an update on the running battle between U.S. forces in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and Houthi rebels in Yemen. Yesterday's, for instance, noted the United States destroyed four Houthi radars and two drones, one aerial and one sea-based.

But last week, Houthi rebels succeeded in damaging two cargo ships so severely they had to be abandoned and the crews evacuated. The M/V Tutor, which is Liberian-flagged and Greek-owned, was struck by a small craft that was rigged to look like it was being piloted by several people, but the figures in the boat were actually dummies. That apparently fooled the crew members, who did not take defensive action.

"The June 12 attack on the Tutor resulted in severe flooding and damage to the engine room. One civilian mariner remains missing following the attack," Sabrina Singh, Pentagon spokeswoman, said yesterday. "The USS Philippine Sea responded to distress calls from the Tutor. Aircraft from the Philippine Sea and partner forces helped evacuate all personnel from the vessel," said Singh, who noted the evacuation was carried out in range of Houthi weapons under "hostile conditions."

"The Tutor remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water while waiting for salvage vessels to help with recovery," she said. "Among the ships that were in response distance and did nothing to assist the M/V Tutor were Iranian, Russian, and Chinese naval vessels."

On June 13, an attack on the M/V Verbena, which is Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, and Polish-operated, resulted in a fire on board. The crew issued a distress call and was forced to abandon ship, and its members were rescued by another cargo ship nearby. "The Verbena is no longer on fire and is being towed by another vessel toward a nearby port," Singh said. 

"This continued reckless behavior by Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza, and yet, they are threatening the lives of those who have nothing to do with the conflict," she said.



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8 a.m. — George Washington University Project for Media and National Security Zoom discussion of the Congressional report: "Preventing, Countering, and Responding to Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism: Nuclear Threats," with Stephen Flynn, chairman, WMD Nuclear Terrorism Committee; and Michael Janicke, senior staff director RSVP: Thom Shanker at [email protected]. https://nationalsecuritymedia.gwu.edu

9 a.m. 1250 South Hayes St., Arlington, Virginia — Defense One annual Tech Summit: "How innovations of today and tomorrow will shape national security, defense strategy, and great power competition," with Maynard Holliday, assistant secretary for critical technologies, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Frank Peterkin, principal director for directed energy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Critical Technologies; Jarret Lafleur, senior adviser to the principal director for hypersonics for strike systems strategy and policy, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; and Stefanie Tompkins, director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, https://events.defenseone.com/tech-summit

9:30 a.m. 501 Langston Blvd., Arlington, Virginia — Air & Space Forces Association in-person and virtual discussion with Lt. Gen. Adrian Spain, deputy chief of staff for operations, Air Force https://www.afa.org/events/air-space-warfighters-in-action-lt-gen-adrian-spain/

10 a.m. 192 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing: “A Review, President’s FY2025 Budget Request for the National Guard and Reserves,” with testimony from Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief, National Guard Bureau; Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, chief, Army Reserve; Vice Adm. John Mustin, chief, Navy Reserve; Lt. Gen. Leonard Anderson, commander, Marine Corps Reserve; and Lt. Gen. John Healy, chief, Air Force Reserve http://appropriations.senate.gov

10 a.m. 253 Russell — Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee markup of S. 4207, the “Spectrum and National Security Act of 2024" http://commerce.senate.gov

10 a.m. 342 Dirksen — Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing: “Origins of COVID-19: An Examination of Available Evidence" http://www.hsgac.senate.gov

11 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute book discussion: Lost Decade: The U.S. Pivot to Asia and the Rise of Chinese Power, with co-author Robert Blackwill, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy and former U.S. ambassador to India, and co-author Richard Fontaine, CEO, Center for a New American Security https://www.hudson.org/events/asia-centric-geopolitics-future-us-foreign-policy-china

12 p.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual discussion: “Back to the Drafting Board: U.S. Capabilities for Deterring and Winning in Protracted Conflict,” with Katherine Kuzminski, CNAS deputy director of studies, and Andrew Metrick, fellow, CNAS Defense Program https://www.cnas.org/events/event-back-to-the-drafting-board

2 p.m. 342 Dirksen — Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Investigations Subcommittee hearing: "Boeing’s broken safety culture,” with testimony from Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun http://www.hsgac.senate.gov

2:30 p.m. 419 Dirksen — Senate Foreign Relations Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism Subcommittee hearing: "FY2025 Budget Request for the Middle East and North Africa,” with testimony from Barbara Leaf, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, and Jeanne Pryor, deputy assistant administrator of U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for the Middle East http://foreign.senate.gov


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8 a.m. — Jews United for Democracy and Justice virtual discussion: “How Oct. 7 Has Forced Jews to Reckon With Israel,” with Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard University, and Larry Mantle, host of NPR’s AirTalk with Larry Mantle https://www.jewsunitedfordemocracy.org/event/june-19

12 p.m. — SETA Foundation at Washington D.C. virtual book discussion: “Mapping the Fault Lines in Turkey-U.S. Relations: Making the Vulnerable Partnership,” with author Kilic Kanat, SETA research director, and Kadir Ustun, SETA executive director https://setadc.org/events/book-discussion-mapping-the-fault-lines


8:30 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “Transatlantic Relations ahead, Washington Summit,” with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), co-chairwoman, NATO Observer Group, and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), co-chairman, NATO Observer Group https://www.hudson.org/events/transatlantic-relations-ahead-washington-summit

11 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion: “Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy,” with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH); Heather Williams, director, CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues; and Kari Bingen, director, CSIS Aerospace Security Project https://www.csis.org/events/nuclear-weapons-and-foreign-policy

12 p.m. 188 Russell — McCain Institute fireside chat on "the importance of NATO and the fight for freedom and democracy around the world," with Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and John Boozman (R-AR) https://www.mccaininstitute.org/d-day-event


10:30 a.m. 1701 Pennsylvania Ave NW — Center for a New American Security virtual discussion: 'AUKUS: Taking Stock and Looking Forward," with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA); Madeline Mortelmans, acting assistant secretary of defense for strategies, plans, and capabilities; Paul Myler, deputy head of mission Embassy of Australia, Washington, D.C.; Matthew Steinhelfer, AUKUS senior adviser, U.S. State Department; Trevor Taylor, director, Defence, Industries, and Society Programme; Nishank Motwani, senior analyst, Australian Strategic Policy Institute; Lisa Curtis, senior fellow and director, CNAS Indo-Pacific Security Program; and Philip Shetler-Jones, senior research fellow, Indo-Pacific security, Royal United Services Institute https://www.cnas.org/events/virtual-event-aukus-taking-stock

10:30 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “The Black Sea Region as a Global Inflection Point,” with Romanian Foreign Minister Luminita-Teodora Odobescu https://www.hudson.org/events/black-sea-region-global-inflection-point

12:30 p.m. 300 First St. SE — Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies discussion: “Immigration Policy and Enforcement: A Debate on the Right,” with Michael Buschbacher, partner at Boyden Gray; John Ehrett, chief counsel to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO); Gene Hamilton, executive director, executive vice president and general counsel, America First Legal Foundation; and Ryan Newman, general counsel to the Florida executive office https://fedsoc.org/events/immigration-policy-enforcement-a-debate

"Shifting U.S. administrations have had the absolutely valid point to say that U.S. allies are spending too little. The good news is that's changing."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announcing that 23 of NATO's 32 nations are meeting or exceeding its 2% of GDP defense spending goal
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