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Top 10 U.S. Military Bases of All Time

Signage outside Ramstein Air Base, Ramstein, Germany — sometimes called a “Little America” away from the States. Credit: Stars and Stripes.

The United States has nearly 800 military bases that stretch around the world. If that number doesn’t sound big to you, go add up all of Britain, France and Russia’s bases.

Hint: there’s around 30. Combined.

Narrowing 800 all the way down to ten is a daunting task — and there’s certainly many more contenders. If your favorite didn’t make the list, give it a shoutout below in the comments!

Check out our other top 10s:

Without further ado, here are the 10 best military bases of all time:  


Honorable Mention: Fort Belvoir — Virginia, U.S.

Fort Belvoir,12 miles south of D.C., employs almost twice as many workers as the Pentagon; let that sink in. All DoD agencies are headquartered here, as well as a slew of others. While Fairfax County is one of the most expensive places to live in America — and has one of the worst commutes — on-post housing is available to service members from all branches and their families. Basically, it’s a great duty station for high-key, career-oriented people, and there’s tons to do. It’s not the easiest on the wallet.


10. Joint Base Lewis-McChord — Washington, U.S.

Kicking off our top 10 is JBLM; one of the biggest military installations, point blank. Negatives: the rain literally never ends. In the winter months, that is. Western Washington is actually a great place for outdoors lovers, with spectacular fishing, hunting and boating spots. It’s also only an hour from Seattle, and nearby the picturesque waters of the Puget Sound. Median home prices sit around $400,000, so the Great Northwest does come with a price tag. Is it worth it? Locals seem to think so.


9. Naval Base San Diego — California, U.S.

Naval Base San Diego. Credit: Pinterest.

NB San Diego is one of the most well-loved duty stations in the Navy. This 13-pier installation sits on the coast of beautiful Southern California, in the city of San Diego. Another pricey location (with a competitive market), San Diego is a big military town that supports multiple cross-service bases. Despite the cost of the big city, there’s something for everyone here: sports, art, incredible food and the best beaches in the world. Did I mention the 300 days of sunshine every year?


8. Fort Carson — Colorado, U.S.

The Army’s Fort Carson swims amid a sea of Air Force; the Academy and three USAF bases are also nearby Colorado Springs. But it’s popular for a reason. Want to try skiing? Snowboarding? Rock climbing? White-water river rafting? There’s even ice climbing — which, by the way, I didn’t know was a thing until now. With 57 inches of snow per year, this sparkling city is the hub for winter sports, and home to a surprisingly rich art scene. #1 need: all-wheel drive.


7. Nellis Air Force Base — Nevada, U.S.

Ever-popular Nellis AFB is less than 30 minutes from the Las Vegas strip, which may play a part in why the service members like it so much. The “Home of the Fighter Pilot” is super diverse in terms of military schools and squadrons. Other than the USAF Warfare Center, you can also find the Thunderbirds, a flying aerobatic team much like the Navy’s Blue Angels, but much better of course (according to every airmen, ever). On a serious note, the desert can be surprisingly beautiful to live in, and Vegas is the headquarters of the UFC and the Raiders NFL team.


6. Hunter Army Airfield — Georgia, U.S.

Troops loading onto a helicopter at Hunter Army Airfield. Credit: Union of Concerned Scientists.

Hunter Army Airfield is a deployment field for the nearby Fort Stewart, and hosts the 3rd Infantry Division, 75th Ranger Regiment, 160th Spec Ops Aviation Regiment and the 1st Battalion of the Coast Guard. If you’re special operations, it’s where you want to be. It’s also in the coastal city of Savannah — one of the original colonies, and the oldest city in Georgia. Home prices are low at ~$135,000, and it’s known for its historic district and antebellum architecture. Savannah’s got the charm of cobblestoned squares and horse-drawn carriages, with all the excitement of being in a modern American city.  


5. Ramstein Air Base — Ramstein, Germany

One of 36 American military bases in Germany, Ramstein AB has a huge military presence, so you won’t feel too foreign in this foreign country. The locals are kind and generally friendly toward Americans. Another upside to Ramstein is the location; it’s near Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and only around 30 minutes from the French border. Try their one-of-a-kind beer gardens and regional breweries. Downside: the forecast is almost always cloudy.


4. Naval Air Station Pensacola — Florida, U.S.

NAS Pensacola. Source: Wikipedia.

“The Cradle of Naval Aviation”, NAS Pensacola trained pilot and later astronaut Neil Armstrong. Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), Training Air Wing SIX and the Blue Angels are headquartered here; if any Navy base competes with Air Force pilots, it’s this one. Pensacola is in the northwest panhandle of Florida, so there’s no shortage of sun and beaches. Watch out for hurricane season, though.


3. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam — Hawaii, U.S.

Pearl Harbor-Hickam sits on the paradise of Oahu, Hawaii, and houses 66,000-plus sailors, airmen and their families. It’s a big base with massive operations, and 160 commands. The biggest, and the only real downside to this duty station is the cost of living on an island. But with gorgeous beaches, waterfalls and rainforest destinations, there’s a ton to do for nature-goers here. Waikiki in Honolulu gives you your retail fix, and offers a lot of unique dives and food options too. Overall, it’s a great place to have fun.


2. Torii Station — Okinawa, Japan

Torii Station is home to the U.S. Army on Okinawa, 10th Support Group, the 1st Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). Okinawa is known for its tropical weather, lush greenery, exotic sea life and classic Japanese architecture. Unlike Germany, this duty station will feel more like you’re away from the States and able to absorb a lot of the culture. Visit one of their WWII sites, or stop by the Churaumi Aquarium.


1. Naval Support Activity Naples — Naples, Italy

NSA Naples. Source: USO.

An Italian-controlled base, NSA Naples hosts the U.S. Naval Forces Europe and our Sixth Fleet and is our #1 on the list of best military bases. It is one of seven beautiful bases in Italy — the others being in Pordenone, Tirrenia, Vicenza, Sicily, Gaeta and Maddalena. Naples is a city you could get lost in; near the base of Mt. Vesuvius and the ash-buried town of Pompeii, it’s a site for history buffs. It’s classic Italy with gorgeous cathedrals, centuries-old art and architecture. The food, weather and beaches are cherries on top of all that NSA Naples has to offer.


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