Special Report

States With the Most People in the Military

Detailed Findings

Of the five branches of the armed services, the Army is the largest, accounting for over a third of all active duty personnel. The Navy is the second largest branch by total personnel, followed by the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard.

The share of military personnel within each branch varies by state, depending on the types of bases in the area. For example, Virginia is home of the Norfolk Naval Base and its population of 145,000 active duty personnel and dependents. As a result, the Navy accounts for over 60% of all active duty service members in the state.

In several states with major air bases like the Dakotas and Wyoming, virtually all active duty service men and women are in the U.S. Air Force.

The Coast Guard is the largest service branch in just four states, while there are no states where active duty Marines constitute the largest share of service personnel.


To determine the states that have the most active duty military personnel, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the Department of Defense, current as of June 30, 2018. We based our ranking on active duty personnel only — men and women serving in the military on a full-time basis. Data on military bases came from the “2016 Demographics Report,” compiled by Defense Department contractor Military OneSource. Total base personnel counts include service men and women and their dependents. For this reason, the number of people on a base is often greater than the total number of active duty service men and women in its respective state.

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