Special Report

States With the Most People in the Military

There are nearly 1.4 million active-duty men and women serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard. The U.S. military includes an additional 804,000 Americans in the National Guard. Though specific duties vary by service branch, the primary objective of U.S. military forces is to defend the United States and its interests around the globe.

The tens of thousands of active-duty military personnel stationed overseas represent only a small fraction of America’s fighting force. According to the Department of Defense, nearly 90% of active-duty personnel are stationed on bases in the United States.

24/7 Wall St. ranked the number of stationed active duty military personnel for every 100,000 residents in every state using data as of March 31, 2020 compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center, a service maintained by the Secretary of Defense for the DoD. The number of military personnel varies considerably from state to state, from as few as eight active duty personnel per 100,000 state residents, to as many as 3,000 per 100,000 state residents.

Virginia, for example, is home to the Norfolk Naval Base, the largest military base in the country as measured by active-duty personnel stationed there. Partially as a result, the overall concentration of members of the armed services is far higher in Virginia than in most of the rest of the country. Here is a full list of America’s largest military bases.

In many of the states with high concentrations of active-duty service members, annual spending by the Department of Defense comes out to thousands of dollars per resident. These expenditures support the high numbers of armed forces, military bases, and other operations that can often help shape city and state economies. Here is a look at America’s military cities.

Click here to see the states with the most people in the military. 
Click here to see our methodology.

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