America’s Largest Military Bases

September 6, 2018 by John Harrington

Source: razihusin / Getty Images
The United States has by far the strongest military in the world, and to support the nation’s armed forces, America has established military bases in every state. The Department of Defense oversees more than 420 military installations in the 50 states, District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

These facilities are used for training and deploying troops, for maintaining and testing weapons systems, for research and education, and aircraft testing. Given the space requirements of the military, the physical size of these installations can be considerable.

24/7 Wall Street has compiled a list of the 50 largest military bases in the United States. The facilities are listed in order of physical size, according to data from the Department of Defense’s Base Structure Report for fiscal year 2017.

Click here to see America’s largest military bases.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: 39955793@N07 / Flickr

50. Kings Bay Navy Submarine Base
> State: Georgia
> Service branch: Navy
> Physical size (in acres): 16,616
> Active duty service members: 2,717

Kings Bay Navy Submarine Base is the East Coast base for Ohio-class submarines. The submarines, which the Navy calls “virtually undetectable undersea launch platforms of intercontinental missiles,” are equipped with Trident strategic ballistic missiles.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

49. Joint Base Charleston
> State: South Carolina
> Service branch: Navy
> Physical size (in acres): 16,729
> Active duty service members: 5,975

Joint Base Charleston provides a variety of services such as harbor security patrol, river dredging, and transportation isolation systems to transport patients with highly contagious diseases such as Ebola.

Source: dvids / Flickr

48. Schofield Barracks
> State: Hawaii
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 17,725
> Active duty service members: 16,754

Founded in 1908, Schofield Barracks is home to the 25th Infantry Division.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

47. Francis E Warren Air Force Base
> State: Wyoming
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 18,446
> Active duty service members: 2,954

This facility was named after Wyoming’s first state governor and Civil War hero. It became an Air Force base in 1947.

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Source: Jarek Tuszyński / Wikimedia Commons

46. Fort Irwin
> State: California
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 22,154
> Active duty service members: 3,960

The stated mission of Fort Irwin is to provide “tough, realistic joint and combined arms training.” It is home to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Source: usairforce / Flickr

45. Beale Air Force Base
> State: California
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 22,451
> Active duty service members: 3,955

Opened in 1942, this facility housed prisoners of war during World War II. Nowadays, Beale’s mission is to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

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Source: 39955793@N07 / Flickr

44. Barksdale Air Force Base
> State: Louisiana
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 22,504
> Active duty service members: 5,078

Barksdale is home to the 2nd Bomb Wing, which trains all Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Force Reserve B-52 crews.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

43. Fallon Naval Air Station
> State: Nevada
> Service branch: Navy
> Physical size (in acres): 22,511
> Active duty service members: 841

In Nevada, Naval Air Station Fallon operates an airfield and bombing and electronic warfare ranges. It also provides weapons training for the Navy and Marine aviation units.

Source: Nehrams2020 / Wikimedia Commons

42. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
> State: California
> Service branch: Marines
> Physical size (in acres): 22,906
> Active duty service members: 7,814

Miramar, also known as “Fightertown USA,” is the base of operations for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the aviation segment of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

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Source: Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

41. Eielson Air Force Base
> State: Alaska
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 24,926
> Active duty service members: 1,799

Based at Eielson, the 354th Fighter Wing has seen action in every major conflict in which the United States has been involved since 1942, except for the Korean War.

Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

40. Tyndall Air Force Base
> State: Florida
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 28,824
> Active duty service members: 3,343

Founded as an aerial gunnery base during World War II, Tyndall is home to the 325th Fighter Wing, whose “primary mission is to train and project unrivaled combat power.”

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Source: airlines470 / Flickr

39. Naval Air Station Lemoore
> State: California
> Service branch: Navy
> Physical size (in acres): 29,408
> Active duty service members: 4,127

Lemoore is home to the Pacific Strike Fighter Wing. In 1998, the facility was chosen as the West Coast site for the Navy’s strike-fighter aircraft, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Source: matt_hecht / Flickr

38. Fort Dix
> State: New Jersey
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 30,720
> Active duty service members: 785

Built during World War I, Fort Dix trained three Army divisions during that war. Its mission today is to process military personnel for enlistment or induction.

Source: 39955793@N07 / Flickr

37. Fort Campbell
> State: Kentucky
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 36,739
> Active duty service members: 27,335

This facility straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border. It is the base of operations for many fighting contingents, including the 101st Airborne Division.

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Source: Sofia Bledsoe / Wikimedia Commons

36. Redstone Arsenal
> State: Alabama
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 38,228
> Active duty service members: 660

Redstone, where Wernher von Braun developed the first ballistic missile, is the center of the Army’s aviation and missile command operations.

Source: Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

35. Kirtland Air Force Base
> State: New Mexico
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 43,842
> Active duty service members: 3,278

Kirtland is the sixth largest installation in the Air Force. It expanded in 1971 when it merged with Manzano and Sandia Base.

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Source: Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

34. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training
> State: California
> Service branch: Marines
> Physical size (in acres): 44,452
> Active duty service members: 210

This remote facility was opened in 1951 to train Marines for cold-weather climate in Korea. Its mission today is to develop concepts to enhance the Marines’ ability to operate in mountain and cold-weather environments.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

33. Holloman Air Force Base
> State: New Mexico
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 51,813
> Active duty service members: 3,725

Holloman, named after a pioneer in rocket research, claims it is home to the world’s longest (50,188 feet) and fastest (10,000 feet per second) test track.

Source: soldiersmediacenter / Flickr

32. Fort Jackson
> State: South Carolina
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 51,900
> Active duty service members: 10,780

Fort Jackson is the nation’s largest basic training site, training more than 48,000 soldiers each year. The facility, opened in 1917, trains 60% of the women enlisting in the Army every year.

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Source: RiverNorthPhotography / Getty Images

31. Air Force Academy
> State: Colorado
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 53,136
> Active duty service members: 2,111

The United States Air Force Academy considers remotely piloted aircraft a critical part of its mission because of the aircraft’s ability to provide air support in combat. RPAs are part of the academy’s curriculum.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

30. Fort Gordon
> State: Georgia
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 55,597
> Active duty service members: 11,373

Fort Gordon is the home of the United States Army Signal Corps and Cyber Center of Excellence. At Fort Gordon, the Army is developing doctrine, training, and solutions related to cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum.

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Source: yoh4nn / Getty Images

29. Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base
> State: North Carolina
> Service branch: Marines
> Physical size (in acres): 57,319
> Active duty service members: 36,005

Camp Lejeune is the base for the II Marine Expeditionary Force, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, as well as other units.

Source: U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings

28. Fort Rucker
> State: Alabama
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 58,727
> Active duty service members: 3,572

Fort Rucker is where the aviation branch of the Army originated and the concept of air mobility was advanced.

Source: thenationalguard / Flickr

27. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
> State: Alaska
> Service branch: Air Force/Army
> Physical size (in acres): 60,027
> Active duty service members: 4,094

This Alaska facility was created out of the merger of the Air Force’s Elmendorf Air Force Base and the Army’s Fort Richardson in October 2010.

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Source: dvids / Flickr

26. Marine Corps Base Quantico
> State: Virginia
> Service branch: Marines
> Physical size (in acres): 60,320
> Active duty service members: 7,643

Quantico is called the “Crossroads of the Marine Corps” because it is where significant tactics such as expeditionary warfare — how troops can be deployed overseas — were developed.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

25. Fort Leonard Wood
> State: Missouri
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 67,437
> Active duty service members: 11,093

Fort Leonard Wood is home to three Army schools: U.S. Army Engineer; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear; and Military Police.

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Source: DanTD / Wikimedia Commons

24. Aberdeen Proving Ground
> State: Maryland
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 76,793
> Active duty service members: 1,078

Aberdeen Proving Ground opened in 1917 to train military personnel in the use of artillery. All of the army’s tanks and vehicles over the last 50 years have been tested at the facility.

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr

23. Fort Sill
> State: Oklahoma
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 93,829
> Active duty service members: 11,766

Another basic training base, Fort Sill instructs soldiers in the use of artillery. In July, Fort Sill hosted a four-day, basic training exercise intended to be more rigorous and designed to make soldiers more mobile in combat.

Source: thejointstaff / Flickr

22. Fort Riley
> State: Kansas
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 97,112
> Active duty service members: 15,865

Fort Riley is the home of “The Big Red One,” also known as the 1st Infantry Division, whose mission is to “build and maintain combat ready forces” and deploy when ordered. Fort Riley was a mobilization center for units sent to fight the war on terrorism.

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Source: n28307 / Flickr

21. Vandenberg Air Force Base
> State: California
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 118,312
> Active duty service members: 2,459

Vandenberg Air Force Base, located about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, launches military, unmanned and commercial satellites into polar orbit, and also tests intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

20. Fort Drum
> State: New York
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 124,765
> Active duty service members: 15,118

Fort Drum is one of the largest military facilities in the Northeast and is home to the 10th Mountain Division, a light infantry unit that specializes in fighting in difficult terrain and weather conditions.

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Source: marine_corps / Flickr

19. Camp Pendleton
> State: California
> Service branch: Marines
> Physical size (in acres): 126,749
> Active duty service members: 39,360

Camp Pendleton is the largest Marine Corps expeditionary training facility on the West Coast. The Marines use coastal and mountain terrain to maintain combat readiness.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. Fort Knox
> State: Kentucky
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 127,930
> Active duty service members: 4,772

At Fort Knox, the Army developed a battle doctrine that emphasized utilization of new weapons and prompted the Army to take a more offensive role in Central Europe in the 1980s. The doctrine was employed successfully during the Gulf War.

Source: usairforce / Flickr

17. Camp Shelby
> State: Mississippi
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 136,215
> Active duty service members: 339

Like many camps on this list, Camp Shelby, a mobilization and training center, was opened during World War I. It was the second largest training site during the Second World War and is now involved in the war on terrorism.

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Source: U.S. Air Force photo / Dennis Rogers

16. Fort Carson
> State: Colorado
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 137,411
> Active duty service members: 24,034

The Pentagon said in July that Fort Carson, known as the “Mountain Post,” is sending about 1,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan, joining two brigades from the Colorado-based facility already stationed in the Asian nation. The deployment will lift the number of troops from Fort Carson in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe to 12,000.

Source: dvids / Flickr

15. Fort McCoy
> State: Wisconsin
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 138,323
> Active duty service members: 245

Fort McCoy is the largest military base in Wisconsin. Since 1990, the federal government has spent more than $265.6 million on new construction at the base.

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Source: usairforce / Flickr

14. Fort Bragg
> State: North Carolina
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 152,085
> Active duty service members: 45,153

This sprawling military base is home to the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Army Parachute Team.

Source: soldiersmediacenter / Flickr

13. Fort Benning
> State: Georgia
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 179,353
> Active duty service members: 19,920

Fort Benning, which is celebrating its centennial this year, has been a center of innovation in areas such as tank maneuver warfare, airborne operations, and airmobile strategy.

Source: Belyjmishka / Getty Images

12. Fort Hood
> State: Texas
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 218,025
> Active duty service members: 30,224

Fort Hood is home to the 1st Cavalry Division. The second biggest military installation in Texas suspended live-round firing in July and helped firefighters put out wildfires in Texas.

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Source: 621crw / Flickr

11. Fort Polk
> State: Louisiana
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 240,272
> Active duty service members: 7,611

Fort Polk, named after a Confederate general, is known for its joint training facility, the Joint Readiness Training Center. The installation is constructing new facilities with the intention of providing better training platform for soldiers.

Source: ganatlguard / Flickr

10. Fort Stewart
> State: Georgia
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 279,155
> Active duty service members: 19,791

Fort Stewart is where the 3rd Infantry Division is based. During World War II, the facility housed more than 55,000 soldiers as the United States prepared for the D-Day invasion.

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Source: duaneellison / Getty Images

9. Edwards Air Force Base
> State: California
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 307,517
> Active duty service members: 2,082

Edwards Air Force Base is the second-largest base in the Air Force. It is home of the 412th Test Wing, which analyzes and tests aircraft and weapons systems.

Source: arcticwarrior / Flickr

8. Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Force Base
> State : Washington
> Service branch: Army/Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 414,000
> Active duty service members: 2,881

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a combination of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base and is home to the Army’s I Corps and the Air Force’s 62nd Airlift Wing. Among the 62nd’s tasks is airlifting nuclear weapons and materials.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. Eglin Air Force Base
> State: Florida
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size (in acres): 449,421
> Active duty service members: 7,804

Eglin Air Force Base is home to the 96th Test Wing, the largest in the Air Force. The 96th tests non-nuclear munitions, navigational, and guidance systems.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. 29 Palms Marine Corps Air/Ground Combat Center
> State: California
> Service branch: Marines
> Physical size (in acres): 635,811
> Active duty service members: 9,412

This California-based military installation conducts live-fire, combined arms training to ensure readiness of combat forces.

Source: ooocha / Flickr

5. China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station
> State: California
> Service branch: Navy
> Physical size (in acres): 651,739
> Active duty service members: 587

China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, located in the western part of the Mojave Desert, is the Navy’s largest single land holding, representing 38% of the Navy’s land possessions worldwide. China Lake provides assets to test cutting-edge weapons systems.

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Source: U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Stephan Phan

4. Fort Jonathan Wainwright
> State: Alaska
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 697,300
> Active duty service members: 7,199

Fort Jonathan Wainwright, the biggest physical military facility in Alaska, was first established as an Army Air Corps base in 1939 to test aircraft in Arctic conditions.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

3. Yuma Proving Ground
> State: Arizona
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 1,008,913
> Active duty service members: 128

Yuma Proving Ground is one of the largest military installations in the world and is used by 10 other nations for weapons testing. The AH-64 Apache helicopter, the M-1 Abrams tank, and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle underwent developmental training at Yuma.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2. Fort Bliss
> State: Texas
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 1,332,807
> Active duty service members: 25,546

Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley, stationed at Fort Bliss, became the first enlisted woman to graduate from the U.S. Army’s Ranger School in late August. Fort Bliss is known for its Ranger training regimen.

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Source: U.S. Air Force photo / Senior Airman Harry Brexel

1. White Sands Missile Range
> State: New Mexico
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size (in acres): 3,542,862
> Active duty service members: 338

With more than 3.5 million acres, White Sands Missile Range is the nation’s largest open air firing range. NASA also used White Sands for a landing site during the Space Shuttle operation. Satellite tests also are held there.

Detailed findings:

Maintaining these facilities comes with a large price tag. In July, Congress approved $717 billion in military spending for fiscal 2019. Though much of the funding goes toward paying military service men and women — there are more than 1.1 million active duty service men and women on bases in U.S. — the bill covers the development of weapons systems, strategic defense technology, as well as maintaining base operations.

Many of the bases were built during World War I, and a handful are older. As one might expect, the biggest of the military installations are in the physically largest states — Alaska, Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona.

The western states are less constrained by geography, have vast swaths of desert, and are less densely populated than the eastern part of the nation. California has dozens of military installations that use the desert and the Pacific Ocean to test weaponry.

Three military installations — Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, Fort Bliss in Texas, and White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico — each span more than 1 million acres. White Sands is larger than such states as Rhode Island and Connecticut.

In addition to their enormous physical footprint, these bases also have significant economic impacts on their communities. According to an analysis in 2015 by the Department of Defense, military spending as a share of the state GDP was highest in Virginia (11.8%), followed by Hawaii (9.9%). In dollar amounts, military spending was highest in Virginia, totaling $53 billion, and second highest in California, at $49.3 billion.

Methodology:

To create the list of the nation’s largest military bases, 24/7 Wall Street used data compiled by the Department of Defense’s Base Structure Report for fiscal year 2017. The report includes the physical size of military installations in acres. Personnel counts data was obtained from the 2016 Demographics Report, compiled by Defense Department contractor Military OneSource.