But the 2 percent level is only a guideline for individual countries to follow for their own defense. Only a tiny fraction of that amount goes to pay for joint NATO facilities and personnel. The rest represents spending on each country’s troops, facilities and equipment.
The 2 percent target is only one way to assess the defense burdens borne by each NATO member. Norway, for example, spends just 1.6 percent of GDP on its military, roughly in the middle of the pack. But that represents more than $11,000 per person, second only to the U.S., which spends more than $15,000 per capita.
The 2 percent GDP target also overlooks how the money is spent. Lithuania, which also spends less than the 2 percent target, has the second highest number of troops per capita, after Greece —with about 8 military personnel per 100,000 population.