America’s Largest Military Bases

November 7, 2019 by Sam Stebbins

Source: Photo by David McNew / Getty Images

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.

Click here to see America’s largest military bases

Source: Brian Stansberry / Wikimedia Commons

50. Naval Support Activity Crane
> State: Indiana
> Nearest city: Crane
> Service branch: Navy
> Physical size: 62,435 acres
> Personnel: Fewer than 100 active duty

Naval Support Activity Crane Naval Base, or NSA Crane, was named after William M. Crane, a Navy officer who fought and died in the War of 1812. Nearly all of the base’s 62,435 acres are owned by the DoD and operated by the Navy.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Naval Weapons System Training Facility Boardman via Facebook

49. Naval Weapons Training Facility Boardman
> State: Oregon
> Nearest city: Boardman
> Service branch: Navy
> Physical size: 62,871 acres
> Personnel: Fewer than 100 active duty

The Naval Weapons Training Facility Boardman is a nearly 63,000-acre in area in Oregon, just south of the Columbia River. The area is primarily used for training with low and fast-flying attack aircraft.

Source: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Brittney Bradley

48. Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center
> State: Arkansas
> Nearest city: Tulsa
> Service branch: Army Guard
> Physical size: 65,305 acres
> Personnel: N/A

Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center is operated by the National Guard but is also used by a number of other local, state, and federal agencies. The base’s training functions include live-fire exercises, river crossing, and urban combat.

Source: U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. C.T. Michael

47. Camp Gruber
> State: Oklahoma
> Nearest city: Braggs
> Service branch: Army Guard
> Physical size: 66,104 acres
> Personnel: N/A

At Camp Gruber training facility, which was established in 1942 after the United States entered World War II, soldiers train in MOUT exercises (military operations on urban terrain) that replicate urban scenarios, such as collapsed buildings.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

46. Fort Leonard Wood
> State: Missouri
> Nearest city: Fort Leonard Wood
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 67,437 acres
> Personnel: 22,993

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

Source: 39955793@N07 / Flickr

45. Fort Campbell
> State: Tennessee
> Nearest city: Clarksville
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 73,269 acres
> Personnel: 62,946

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

[in-text-ad]

Source: Photo by John Moore / Getty Images

44. Fort Huachuca
> State: Arizona
> Nearest city: Sierra Vista
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 73,540 acres
> Personnel: 8,674

Fort Huachuca is located about 15 miles north of Mexico and has been in operation since 1877, when Arizona was still a territory. The facility hosts the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command.

Source: Photo by Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

43. Fort A.P. Hill
> State: Virginia
> Nearest city: Bowling Green
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 75,813 acres
> Personnel: Fewer than 100 active duty

The facility, named after Virginia native and Confederate General A.P. Hill, was established in 1941 and serves an all-purpose training facility, including a 27,000-acre live-fire area. More than 26,000 troops under Gen. George S. Patton trained at Fort A.P. Hill during World War II.

Source: Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

42. Aberdeen Proving Ground
> State: Maryland
> Nearest city: Aberdeen
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 77,023 acres
> Personnel: 2,761

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.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal

41. Melrose Air Force Range
> State: New Mexico
> Nearest city: Floyd
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 79,973 acres
> Personnel: N/A

The Air Force facility is located about 25 miles west of Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. The Air Force has been using the installation since 1952, when it leased the land from New Mexico and landowners. The 27th Special Operations Wing oversees the range, which is also used by America’s allies.

Source: Photo by Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

40. Fort Lewis
> State: Washington
> Nearest city: Tacoma
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 86,213 acres
> Personnel: 62,688

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.

[in-text-ad]

Source: dvids / Flickr

39. Fort Sill
> State: Oklahoma
> Nearest city: Lawton
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 93,830 acres
> Personnel: 24,523

Another basic training base, Fort Sill instructs soldiers in the use of artillery. Fort Sill is home to the largest field artillery complex in the United States.

Source: diversey / Flickr

38. Fort Riley
> State: Kansas
> Nearest city: Manhattan
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 97,112 acres
> Personnel: 33,585

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.

Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan

37. Avon Park Air Force Range
> State: Florida
> Nearest city: Avon Park
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 100,929 acres
> Personnel: N/A

The inter-agency training facility is located in south-central Florida and provides about 82,000 acres for use to the public.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: U.S. Air Force photo / Senior Airman Rachel Kocin

36. Saylor Creek Air Force Range
> State: Idaho
> Nearest city: Mount Home
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 109,466 acres
> Personnel: N/A

Saylor Creek Air Force Range is a nearly 110,000-acre live-bombing range in southern Idaho. The facility features simulated “hostile” radar facilities that are moved around. Simulated surface-to-air missile batteries also operate at Saylor.

Source: n28307 / Flickr

35. Vandenberg Air Force Base
> State: California
> Nearest city: Lompoc
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 118,312 acres
> Personnel: 5,310

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.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

34. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
> State: California
> Nearest city: Escondido
> Service branch: Marine Corps
> Physical size: 123,732 acres
> Personnel: 71,698

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

33. Fort Drum
> State: New York
> Nearest city: Evans Mills
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 124,757 acres
> Personnel: 32,680

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

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

32. Fort Knox
> State: Kentucky
> Nearest city: Middletown
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 127,930 acres
> Personnel: 12,483

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.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Victor A. Mancilla / Released

31. Pohakuloa Training Area
> State: Hawaii
> Nearest city: Hilo
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 132,410 acres
> Personnel: Fewer than 100 active duty

Pohakuloa Training Area is located on a plateau in a mountainous region on the Island of Hawaii and provides logistics and airfield support to the Army. The facility was used as a training area for Marines as they prepared for the invasions of Saipan and Iwo Jima in World War II.

Source: usairforce / Flickr

30. Camp Shelby
> State: Mississippi
> Nearest city: Hattiesburg
> Service branch: Army Guard
> Physical size: 136,215 acres
> Personnel: 1,223

Camp Shelby, which opened in 1917, is a joint forces training center located in southern Mississippi. The facility is a training area for the M1 Abrams Tank and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Chmiel / Getty Images

29. Fort Carson
> State: Colorado
> Nearest city: Colorado Springs
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 137,409 acres
> Personnel: 57,393

The Colorado facility southwest of Colorado Springs is one of the nation’s youngest military installations, where soldiers are trained to fight in mountainous terrain.

Source: soldiersmediacenter / Flickr

28. Fort McCoy
> State: Wisconsin
> Nearest city: Sparta
> Service branch: Army Reserve
> Physical size: 139,763 acres
> Personnel: 905

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.

Source: photo by Lance Cpl. Abby Burtner, MARFORRES COMCAM) (Released)

27. Hawthorne Army Depot
> State: Nevada
> Nearest city: Hawthorne
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 147,312 acres
> Personnel: Fewer than 100 active duty

The Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada is the world’s largest ammunition depot. Among its missions is to demilitarize ammunition stockpiles by burning and detonating ordnance.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Photo by Spc. Victoria Friend

26. Fort Hunter Liggett
> State: California
> Nearest city: Jolon
> Service branch: Army Reserve
> Physical size: 162,773 acres
> Personnel: N/A

The California facility has been an Army installation since 1940, after the federal government bought the land from publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst Jr. and other landowners. Today, the instillation is used for large-scale joint training exercises.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

25. Fort McCoy
> State: North Carolina
> Nearest city: Fort Bragg
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 163,535 acres
> Personnel: 109,339

This huge military base, opened in 1918, 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.

[in-text-ad]

Source: ganatlguard / Flickr

24. Fort Benning
> State: Georgia
> Nearest city: Columbus
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 167,094 acres
> Personnel: 40,723

Fort Benning, over 100 years old, has been a center of innovation in areas such as tank maneuver warfare, airborne operations, and airmobile strategy.

Source: Photo by Jana Birchum / Getty Images

23. Fort Hood
> State: Texas
> Nearest city: Killeen
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 212,512 acres
> Personnel: 81,055

Fort Hood is home to the 1st Cavalry Division. The second biggest military installation in Texas suspended live-round firing in July 2018 and helped firefighters put out wildfires in Texas.

Source: Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons

22. Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site
> State: Colorado
> Nearest city: Model
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 235,782 acres
> Personnel: N/A

Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site is located in Colorado. The barren area of the state was purchased by the Army for training purposes in 1983 and is used for military maneuvers.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Photo by Mario Villafuerte / Getty Images

21. Fort Polk
> State: Louisiana
> Nearest city: Fort Polk
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 236,329 acres
> Personnel: 17,882

Fort Polk, named after a Confederate general, is known for its joint training facility, the Joint Readiness Training Center. About half of the 1.6 million American service men and women who have been deployed overseas since 9/11 trained at Fort Polk.

Source: ganatlguard / Flickr

20. Fort Stewart
> State: Georgia
> Nearest city: Hinesville
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 279,155 acres
> Personnel: 45,647

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.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Photo by Brooke Davis / U.S. Air Force via Getty Images

19. Edwards Air Force Base
> State: California
> Nearest city: Lancaster
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 307,517 acres
> Personnel: 4,611

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

Source: Photo by General Dynamics / Getty Images

18. Yakima Training Center
> State: Washington
> Nearest city: Yakima
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 315,597 acres
> Personnel: N/A

The massive military installation in the Pacific Northwest has been in operation since just before the United States entered World War II. It serves the Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Army National Guard units, as well as the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard units, and contingents from Canada and Japan.

Source: U.S. Air Force file photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee

17. Utah Test and Training Range North
> State: Utah
> Nearest city: Ogden
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 366,877 acres
> Personnel: N/A

The training range is a large military area in northern Utah with 19,000 square miles of restricted airspace. Missions flown into the facility are coordinated with Hill Air Force Base about 40 miles away near Ogden, Utah.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: usasoc / Flickr

16. Eglin Air Force Base
> State: Florida
> Nearest city: Holt
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 449,421 acres
> Personnel: 21,170

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.

Source: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Summer Dowding MAWTS-1 COMCAM / Released

15. Chocolate Mountain Air Gunnery Range
> State: California
> Nearest city: Niland
> Service branch: Marine Corps
> Physical size: 456,364 acres
> Personnel: N/A

Aviation combat crews have trained at the Chocolate Mountain Air Gunnery Range since World War II. The range is located east of the Salton Sea in southeastern California.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Photo By U.S. Navy / Getty Images

14. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake Randsburg Wash Area
> State: California
> Nearest city: Trona
> Service branch: Navy
> Physical size: 469,729 acres
> Personnel: N/A

This naval facility is contiguous to another naval installation at China Lake. The area was rocked by earthquakes this past July, and damage to the facilities, where some of the most advanced weaponry is tested, might cost as much as $2 billion to repair.

Source: U.S. Air Force photo / Senior Airman Sean Campbell

13. Cusick Survival Training Site
> State: Washington
> Nearest city: Fairchild
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 494,250 acres
> Personnel: N/A

Cusick Survival Training Site in Washington state is where Air Force airmen and airwomen train to survive in harsh conditions. They are taught evasive tactics, the art of camouflage, and other survival skills.

Source: U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw

12. Utah Test and Training Range South
> State: Utah
> Nearest city: Ogden
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 572,656 acres
> Personnel: N/A

Utah Test and Training Range South is located in Utah’s western desert. The Air Force is pushing to expand the training range by taking over land currently under the control of the Bureau of Land Management to accommodate testing of a new fleet of F-35 fighter jets.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: DoD photo by Lance Cpl. S. A. Harwood, U.S. Marine Corps.

11. Twentynine Palms Main Base
> State: California
> Nearest city: Palm Springs
> Service branch: Marine Corps
> Physical size: 635,811 acres
> Personnel: 16,782

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

Source: Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images

10. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake
> State: California
> Nearest city: China Lake
> Service branch: Navy
> Physical size: 651,739 acres
> Personnel: 1,302

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is located in the western portion of the Mojave Desert in California, about 150 miles north of Los Angeles. The facility develops and tests weapons.

[in-text-ad]

Source: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton

9. Barry M. Goldwater Range West
> State: Arizona
> Nearest city: Yuma
> Service branch: Marine Corps
> Physical size: 692,800 acres
> Personnel: N/A

The western portion of the sprawling Barry Goldwater Range is a Marine Corps base — and it is where Marine pilots are trained before deployment.

Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Peter Reft / Released

8. Fort Wainwright
> State: Alaska
> Nearest city: Fairbanks
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 697,475 acres
> Personnel: 15,679

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

Source: Photo by George Frey / Getty Images

7. Dugway Proving Ground
> State: Utah
> Nearest city: Dugway
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 852,568 acres
> Personnel: N/A

The Dugway Proving Ground in northwestern Utah was established in 1942 and was created to test chemical and biological weapons.

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Photo by © CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images

6. Yukon Command Training Site
> State: Alaska
> Nearest city: Fairbanks
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 864,769 acres
> Personnel: N/A

The training site is part of the Fort Wainwright complex and borders Eielson Air Force Base to the north and east. The site is used to train soldiers in small weapons systems.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

5. Yuma Proving Ground
> State: Arizona
> Nearest city: Yuma
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 1,083,956 acres
> Personnel: 469

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.

[in-text-ad]

Source: Photo by David McNew / Getty Images

4. Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range
> State: Arizona
> Nearest city: Gila Bend
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 1,102,325 acres
> Personnel: N/A

Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range, named after the long-serving Arizona senator, is located near the Mexico border. The facility has been training military pilots since 1941.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

3. Fort Bliss
> State: Texas
> Nearest city: El Paso
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 1,346,659 acres
> Personnel: 59,142

Fort Bliss, established in 1848, is located at the corner of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. It is known for its Ranger training regimen and is also home to the 1st Armored Division.

Source: Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

2. Nellis Air Force Range
> State: Nevada
> Nearest city: Indian Springs
> Service branch: Air Force
> Physical size: 3,092,317 acres
> Personnel: 21,925

Nellis Air Force Base is located at the Nevada Test and Training Range, the biggest contiguous air and ground space facility available for peace-time military operations in the world.

[in-text-ad-2]

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

1. White Sands Missile Range
> State: New Mexico
> Nearest city: Las Cruces
> Service branch: Army
> Physical size: 3,542,862 acres
> Personnel: 1,090

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 training site for space shuttle pilots and as an alternative landing location for the shuttle. Satellite tests also are held there.