The United States has been unofficially at war — and involved in various conflicts around the world — since 2001. Indeed, the U.S. military maintains a massive global presence. More than one in every 10 of 1.3 million active duty service members are stationed at locations outside the U.S.
These service men and women, along with over a trillion dollars worth of infrastructure, are spread across nearly every continent to better protect U.S. interests — an undertaking that often requires either the direct use of force or the threat of it.
Using data from the Department of Defense’s Base Structure Report — Fiscal Year 2018 Baseline, 24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of the countries that host American military installations. Countries are ranked by the total number of installations, from fewest to most. In the case of a tie, the country where the cost of replacing the current installations are greater ranks higher. It is important to note that this list only considers sites that existed as of Sept. 30, 2017, and are larger than 10 acres or have a replacement value of $10 million or higher.
Supplemental data, including the nearest city, also came from the DoD report. GDP per capita at purchasing power parity came from the World Bank, and annual defense spending came from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Both figures are for the most recent available year.
Not only do the countries on this list have some form of defense agreement with the United States, but also they have some geopolitical value advancing U.S. military strategic objectives. For example, the U.S. military has installations in South Korea to deter North Korean aggression. American bases in the Middle East have been used as staging grounds for the fight against ISIS. Installations for monitoring and halting illegal drug shipments are hosted by a handful of Central American and Caribbean nations.
Though the Department of Defense considers these to be U.S. military installations, many of them are used jointly with the host nation or with coalitions such as NATO. Though these bases number in the hundreds, the U.S. military’s largest footprint is located in the United States. Here is a list of America’s largest military bases.