Pentagon leaders ordered a "damage control" operation within hours after President Donald Trump left North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels Thursday to reassure European military officials that the United States will stand behind its commitments to defense, according to current and former diplomatic and military officials.
USA officials told NBC News that maintaining "predictability" among alliance members was important and that calls were made with foreign officials centered around "reinforcing alliance commitments" after Trump "made it clear alliance commitments were on the table".
The Pentagon did not respond to NBC's request for comment, but a senior administration official told the news outlet that Trump had echoed his public rhetoric about North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commitments in private "aggressive" meetings with leaders of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member nations.
"Many countries are not paying what they should".
"NATO is more put together right now, is more coordinated and I think there is a better spirit for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation right now than perhaps they've ever had", he said at an unplanned press conference Thursday.
"So if you go back 10 or 20 years, you'll just add it all up".
Trump also asked North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries to raise their defense spending to 4 percent of their nations' gross domestic product, but French President Emmanuel Macron denied the spending levels those kinds of highs.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert "Woody" Johnson IV said President Trump put America's worldwide relations and Europe's own security "in perspective" with his tough talk at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit.