China is characterized in the US National Defense Strategy as a long-term, strategic competitor of the United States. Credit: US Army.

Fueled by the rapid military rise of China, the US Army is anxious to have the Pentagon approve a request for US$364 million to conduct a division-sized exercise in the Indo-Pacific (Defender Pacific) in fiscal 2021, Defense News reported.

China is characterized in the US National Defense Strategy as a long-term, strategic competitor of the United States, the report said.

The NDS lays out a world where great power competition rather than counterterrorism will drive the Defense Department’s decision-making and force structure, the report said.

While the US Army has 85,000 permanently stationed troops in the Indo-Pacific region and is already conducting exercises such as Pacific Pathways with allies and partners, the service is aiming to practice rapid deployment from the continental US to the Pacific, the report said.

In FY20, the Army will conduct a smaller version of Defender Pacific while Defender Europe will get more investment and focus. But then attention and dollars will swing over to the Pacific in FY21, the report said.

Defender Europe will be scaled back in FY21. The Army is requesting just US$150 million to conduct the exercise in Europe, according to the Army, the report said.

This year it has been reported that Defender Europe, already underway with troops and equipment arriving at ports on the continent this month, will cost about US$340 million, the report said.

The Army is requesting US$150,000 for home stationing training devoted specifically for Defender Pacific and is also asking for another US$214,252 for an “expanded level deployment exercise that demonstrates employment of [Continental United States]-based forces into the Pacific Theater,” according to budget documents, the report said.

The funds include additional transportation, maintenance and operations for the exercise.

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