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 $340 million, which is roughly in line with what the service is requesting in FY21 for the Pacific version.
The only specific funding lines broken out for the FY21 Defender Pacific exercise is home station training; it’s unclear if those numbers are included in the total cost.
The Army is requesting $150,000 for home stationing training devoted specifically for Defender Pacific and is also asking for another $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 funds include additional transportation, maintenance and operations for the exercise.
Defender Pacific will build upon the U.S. Army’s expanding role in the region. The service is already growing its Pacific Pathways exercise series and plans to focus on reinforcing the Oceania region this year. The series began in 2014 and has supported training efforts that satisfy bilateral needs between the U.S. Army and its allies and partners in the region in roughly three rotations each year for about 10 months total.
Last year, Pacific Pathways shifted from shorter rotations that involved more countries to longer visits that involve fewer countries as a way to improve bilateral relations. And participation has grown from a battalion-sized task force to roughly the size of a brigade.
The Defender series is intended to be a regular exercise each year in the Pacific and Europe with the regions trading off being the larger exercise every other year.