The United States is the world’s preeminent military power. Though a handful of countries have more military personnel than the United States — here is a list of the countries with the biggest armies — no country spends more on defense. U.S. military spending nearly topped $650 billion in 2018, more than double the $250 billion spent by China, the country with the world’s second-largest defense budget.
While, when it comes to U.S. defense spending, attention is typically focused on military activity abroad and weapons contracts with private-sector companies, much of the military budget is allocated to operating a network of over 1,000 bases here at home. The Department of Defense is one of the federal government’s larger holders of real estate, controlling a total of over 25 million acres in the United States — roughly equal to the size of Kentucky.
Domestic military bases serve a wide range of functions, including training and housing troops, maintaining and testing weapons systems, and research and education. Using data from the DoD’s Base Structure Report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 largest military bases in the United States and ranked them by total acreage as of Sept. 30, 2017. Though several bases on this list share the same name and are located near or adjacent to one another, there is no geographic overlap. The nearest city came from the DoD and personnel counts, which include active duty service members stationed at the base and their dependents, came from the 2018 Demographics Report, compiled by DoD contractor Military OneSource.
The military bases on this list range in size — from 62,435 acres to more than 3.5 million — and are operated by one of the military’s four branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Their large size is necessitated by their function. Many of the largest bases, like the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, are weapons testing ranges and facilities, staffed by fewer than 100 personnel. Others, like Fort Bragg, are used for personnel training and house over 100,000 active duty personnel and their families.
Of course, the U.S. military has a strong global presence as well, with bases in friendly nations all over the world. Currently, nearly 157,000 active duty service men and women are stationed at bases in foreign countries. Here is a list of the countries with the most U.S. military bases.
Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this article, the 25th largest base was incorrectly listed as Fort McCoy. The correct base, Fort Bragg, is now listed.