The United States has the strongest military in the world, by a long shot. It would make sense that the U.S. would have a lot of military bases to keep up with all the military functions necessary to maintain order. But how many American military bases are there and which is the biggest?
It’s difficult to be sure of an exact number since bases are continually opening and closing depending on the current needs of the military but it’s safe to say that the United States is managing a huge operation in terms of military bases.
From the number of military bases in the United States as well as all the U.S. military installations abroad, we’ll check out the 50 biggest military bases throughout the 50 states and we’ll see where the majority of U.S. military bases are worldwide.
How Many Military Bases Does the U.S. Have?
During the wars in the middle east, several hundred U.S. military bases were erected, many of which have recently been closed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the American military bases in foreign countries have reached staggering numbers.
U.S. military bases worldwide seem to be most prevalent in a few specific countries including Italy, Japan, Honduras, Burkina Faso, Iraq, Thailand, and the Philippines. But don’t be fooled, American military presence can be felt in all corners of the world.
Since the United States is such a massive military power on the world’s stage, American military bases are installed all around the world. According to Politico Magazine, the U.S. holds up to 800 military bases in over 70 countries.
How Many Military Bases Are in the U.S.?
Let’s start with just the military bases that you can find within the country itself.
Between all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Department of Defense oversees more than 420 military installations. That’s not including all of the U.S. military bases located overseas.
These hundreds of military bases are used for various different missions including training, deployment, weapon maintenance and testing, research, and education. Considering all that goes on at a military base, it makes sense that these installations would take up quite a lot of space and end up being rather large.
What is the Largest Military Base in the United States?
As previously mentioned, the activities that take place on a military base require a lot of space. That means many of the bases in the U.S. are huge and expansive, often holding many active-duty soldiers.
These bases are always changing but to give you an idea of the largest military base in the country, here’s a list of the biggest 50 out of over 420 military bases in the United States according to physical size.
1. White Sands Missile Range – New Mexico; 3,542,862 acres
2. Fort Bliss – Texas; 1,332,807 acres
3. Yuma Proving Ground – Arizona; 1,008,913 acres
4. Fort Jonathan Wainwright – Alaska; 697,300 acres
5. China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station – California; 651,739 acres
6. 29 Palms Marine Corps Air/Ground Combat Center – California; 635,811 acres
7. Eglin Air Force Base – Florida; 449,421 acres
8. Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Force Base – Washington; 414,000 acres
9. Edwards Air Force Base – California; 307,517 acres
10. Fort Stewart – Georgia; 279,155 acres
11. Fort Polk – Louisiana; 240,272 acres
12. Fort Hood – Texas; 218,025 acres
13. Fort Benning – Georgia; 179,353 acres
14. Fort Bragg – North Carolina; 152,085 acres
15. Fort McCoy – Wisconsin; 138,323 acres
16. Fort Carson – Colorado; 137,411 acres
17. Camp Shelby – Mississippi; 136,215
18. Fort Knox – Kentucky; 127,930 acres
19. Camp Pendleton – California; 126,749 acres
20. Fort Drum – New York; 124,765 acres
21. Vandenberg Air Force Base – California; 118,312 acres
22. Fort Riley – Kansas; 97,112 acres
23. Fort Sill – Oklahoma; 93,829 acres
24. Aberdeen Proving Ground – Maryland; 76,793 acres
25. Fort Leonard Wood – Missouri; 67,437 acres
26. Marine Corps Base Quantico – Virginia; 60,320 acres
27. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson – Alaska; 60,027 acres
29. Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base – North Carolina; 57,319 acres
30. Fort Gordon – Georgia; 55,597 acres
31. Air Force Academy – Colorado; 53,136 acres
32. Fort Jackson – South Carolina; 51,900 acres
33. Holloman Air Force Base – New Mexico; 3,725 acres
34. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training – California; 44,452 acres
35. Kirtland Air Force Base – New Mexico; 43,842 acres
36. Redstone Arsenal – Alabama; 38,288 acres
37. Fort Campbell – Kentucky; 36,739 acres
38. Fort Dix – New Jersey; 30,720 acres
39. Naval Air Station Lemoore – California; 29,408 acres
40. Tyndall Air Force Base – Florida; 28,824 acres
41. Eielson Air Force Base – Alaska; 24,926 acres
42. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar – California; 22,906 acres
43. Fallon Naval Air Station – Nevada; 22,511 acres
44. Barksdale Air Force Base – Louisiana; 22,504 acres
45. Beale Air Force Base – California; 22,451 acres
46. Fort Irwin – California; 22,154 acres
47. Francis E. Warren Air Force Base – Wyoming; 18,446 acres; 2,954
48. Schofield Barracks – Hawaii; 17,725 acres; 16,725 active duty service members
49. Joint Base Charleston – South Carolina; 16,729 acres; 5,975 active duty service members
50. Kings Bay Navy Submarine Base – Georgia; 16,616 acres; 2,717 active duty service members
As you can see, the biggest military base in the U.S. exceeds the others in acreage by over two million acres. Operated by the Army, the extensive area only has about 338 active duty service members on the base. It’s the country’s largest open firing range and it was also utilized by NASA as a landing site for the Space Shuttle operation. Due to its wide-open spaces, it makes sense the White Sands is a missile base and is also exceptional for satellite tests.
How Many U.S. Military Bases Are There in the World?
To give you an idea of how extensive the number of U.S. military bases there are in the world, let’s compare it to the numbers that other countries maintain.
With nearly 800 American military bases sprinkled all over the planet, places like Britain, France, and Russia – all relatively large and powerful countries – have about 30 foreign military bases, combined.
So, why does the U.S. military insist on having so many?
It could be estimated in 2014 that maintaining military bases and troops abroad could cost up to $100 billion per year with those accounts going up to $200 billion in active war zones. These costs have sparked the debate on whether these foreign U.S. military bases are necessary.
The answers continue to remain unclear but these debates are worth thinking about, especially after seeing the numbers.
What are some of the U.S. Military Bases Around the World?
Most of the U.S. military bases around the world are going to be smaller than those at home, although some foreign bases have become “Little Americas”. Of the countries that hold the most U.S. military bases abroad, how many are there in each?
In Italy, the presence of American military bases has remained relatively constant, even though hundreds of other bases elsewhere in Europe have closed since the 1990s. A new U.S. military base has even recently been built in Sicily to expand operations focused on Africa.
In order to surround China and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the U.S. military established hundreds of bases in Japan and throughout the Pacific region. Even amongst protests in Okinawa, there are still over 30 American military bases in Japan.
Since 1982, a temporary base has existed in Honduras. It’s a loophole in Honduras’ constitution prohibiting permanent foreign troop presence.
Smaller U.S. military bases are starting to pop up all over the globe and they’re being called cooperative security locations. Operating as a base by hosting special operations forces, drones, and surveillance flights, at least 11 of these kinds of bases have emerged and remained in Africa.
At the height of American occupation of Iraq during the recent wars, 505 U.S. military bases were functioning in the country. After the 2011 withdrawal, the U.S. wanted to keep 58 “enduring” bases in Iraq but Parliament vetoed the motion. Since 2014, there are only five U.S. military installations in the country.
Not technically considered a U.S. military base, the Pentagon rents space at UTapao Naval Air Base from a contractor. It served as a major hub during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
In the ‘90s, there was a huge eviction campaign to get U.S. military bases out of the Philippines. Yet, since 2002, at least 600 U.S. troops were deployed there to help Filipino combat insurgents with 6,000 U.S. troops operating temporarily as military exercises.
In conclusion, it’s pretty overwhelming to think about all the cogs working together in this well-oiled machine we call the U.S. military. With massive military bases all around the country and countless U.S. bases functioning all over the globe, the Department of Defense is a mega-power that you won’t want to mess with.