Special Report

States With the Most People in the Military

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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.

50. Iowa
> Active duty personnel: 8 per 100,000 people (total: 265)
> Total no. of military bases: 7 (12th fewest)
> Largest base: Personnel count unavailable
> Per capita defense spending: $568 (10th lowest)

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49. West Virginia
> Active duty personnel: 10 per 100,000 people (total: 187)
> Total no. of military bases: 7 (12th fewest)
> Largest base: Personnel count unavailable
> Per capita defense spending: $314 (the lowest)

48. Minnesota
> Active duty personnel: 12 per 100,000 people (total: 662)
> Total no. of military bases: 9 (16th fewest)
> Largest base: Fort Snelling (175 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $823 (22nd lowest)

47. Indiana
> Active duty personnel: 16 per 100,000 people (total: 1,049)
> Total no. of military bases: 19 (20th most)
> Largest base: Fort Benjamin Harrison (371 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $685 (15th lowest)

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46. Wisconsin
> Active duty personnel: 19 per 100,000 people (total: 1,097)
> Total no. of military bases: 11 (20th fewest)
> Largest base: Fort McCoy (252 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $488 (9th lowest)

45. Pennsylvania
> Active duty personnel: 20 per 100,000 people (total: 2,576)
> Total no. of military bases: 33 (9th most)
> Largest base: Carlisle Barracks (524 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $943 (24th lowest)

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44. Michigan
> Active duty personnel: 21 per 100,000 people (total: 2,064)
> Total no. of military bases: 14 (25th fewest)
> Largest base: Detroit Arsenal (135 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $386 (5th lowest)

43. Vermont
> Active duty personnel: 27 per 100,000 people (total: 168)
> Total no. of military bases: 4 (5th fewest)
> Largest base: Personnel count unavailable
> Per capita defense spending: $705 (17th lowest)

42. Tennessee
> Active duty personnel: 36 per 100,000 people (total: 2,467)
> Total no. of military bases: 15 (24th most)
> Largest base: Naval Support Activity Mid-South (722 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $393 (6th lowest)

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41. Oregon
> Active duty personnel: 37 per 100,000 people (total: 1,553)
> Total no. of military bases: 9 (16th fewest)
> Largest base: Personnel count unavailable
> Per capita defense spending: $319 (2nd lowest)

40. Massachusetts
> Active duty personnel: 55 per 100,000 people (total: 3,766)
> Total no. of military bases: 21 (17th most)
> Largest base: Hanscom AFB (848 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,512 (12th highest)

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39. Ohio
> Active duty personnel: 60 per 100,000 people (total: 7,048)
> Total no. of military bases: 31 (10th most)
> Largest base: Wright-Patterson AFB (5,342 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $603 (13th lowest)

38. Maine
> Active duty personnel: 64 per 100,000 people (total: 852)
> Total no. of military bases: 13 (22nd fewest)
> Largest base: Personnel count unavailable
> Per capita defense spending: $,1910 (8th highest)

37. New Hampshire
> Active duty personnel: 75 per 100,000 people (total: 1,024)
> Total no. of military bases: 5 (6th fewest)
> Largest base: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (856 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,309 (18th highest)

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36. New Jersey
> Active duty personnel: 89 per 100,000 people (total: 7,952)
> Total no. of military bases: 14 (25th fewest)
> Largest base: McGuire AFB (4,318 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $729 (19th lowest)

35. New York
> Active duty personnel: 102 per 100,000 people (total: 19,985)
> Total no. of military bases: 35 (8th most)
> Largest base: Fort Drum (14,944 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $464 (7th lowest)

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34. Arkansas
> Active duty personnel: 129 per 100,000 people (total: 3,886)
> Total no. of military bases: 4 (5th fewest)
> Largest base: Little Rock AFB (3,363 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $373 (4th lowest)

33. Utah
> Active duty personnel: 146 per 100,000 people (total: 4,631)
> Total no. of military bases: 14 (25th fewest)
> Largest base: Hill AFB (3,935 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $982 (25th lowest)

32. Illinois
> Active duty personnel: 164 per 100,000 people (total: 20,951)
> Total no. of military bases: 27 (14th most)
> Largest base: Naval Station Great Lakes (15,385 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $600 (12th lowest)

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31. Alabama
> Active duty personnel: 179 per 100,000 people (total: 8,730)
> Total no. of military bases: 37 (7th most)
> Largest base: Fort Rucker (3,714 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,246 (6th highest)

30. Connecticut
> Active duty personnel: 179 per 100,000 people (total: 6,389)
> Total no. of military bases: 16 (22nd most)
> Largest base: New London NAVSUBBASE (6,559 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $4,170 (3rd highest)

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29. Idaho
> Active duty personnel: 209 per 100,000 people (total: 3,669)
> Total no. of military bases: 7 (12th fewest)
> Largest base: Mountain Home AFB (3,325 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $349 (3rd lowest)

28. Missouri
> Active duty personnel: 278 per 100,000 people (total: 17,062)
> Total no. of military bases: 21 (17th most)
> Largest base: Fort Leonard Wood (12,228 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,474 (14th highest)

27. Arizona
> Active duty personnel: 281 per 100,000 people (total: 20,181)
> Total no. of military bases: 22 (16th most)
> Largest base: Davis-Monthan AFB (5,835 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,430 (15th highest)

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26. Florida
> Active duty personnel: 317 per 100,000 people (total: 67,429)
> Total no. of military bases: 56 (3rd most)
> Largest base: Mayport NAVSTA (9,396 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $916 (23rd lowest)

25. Montana
> Active duty personnel: 318 per 100,000 people (total: 3,373)
> Total no. of military bases: 6 (8th fewest)
> Largest base: Malmstrom AFB (3,199 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $468 (8th lowest)

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24. Nebraska
> Active duty personnel: 324 per 100,000 people (total: 6,244)
> Total no. of military bases: 10 (19th fewest)
> Largest base: Offutt AFB (6,093 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $793 (21st lowest)

23. Louisiana
> Active duty personnel: 338 per 100,000 people (total: 15,731)
> Total no. of military bases: 8 (14th fewest)
> Largest base: Fort Polk (7,828 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $707 (18th lowest)

22. Rhode Island
> Active duty personnel: 344 per 100,000 people (total: 3,635)
> Total no. of military bases: 10 (19th fewest)
> Largest base: Naval Station Newport (2,937 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,362 (16th highest)

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21. Delaware
> Active duty personnel: 374 per 100,000 people (total: 3,619)
> Total no. of military bases: 4 (5th fewest)
> Largest base: Dover AFB (3,458 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $598 (11th lowest)

20. Nevada
> Active duty personnel: 388 per 100,000 people (total: 11,777)
> Total no. of military bases: 16 (22nd most)
> Largest base: Nellis AFB (9,916 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $778 (20th lowest)

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19. South Dakota
> Active duty personnel: 391 per 100,000 people (total: 3,451)
> Total no. of military bases: 4 (5th fewest)
> Largest base: Ellsworth AFB (3,325 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $648 (14th lowest)

18. California
> Active duty personnel: 411 per 100,000 people (total: 162,456)
> Total no. of military bases: 123 (the most)
> Largest base: Camp Pendleton (39,491 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,238 (21st highest)

17. Mississippi
> Active duty personnel: 413 per 100,000 people (total: 12,322)
> Total no. of military bases: 17 (21st most)
> Largest base: Keesler AFB (4,873 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,604 (10th highest)

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16. Texas
> Active duty personnel: 422 per 100,000 people (total: 121,088)
> Total no. of military bases: 59 (2nd most)
> Largest base: Fort Hood (35,324 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,331 (17th highest)

15. Maryland
> Active duty personnel: 484 per 100,000 people (total: 29,233)
> Total no. of military bases: 31 (10th most)
> Largest base: Fort George G. Meade (10,989 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $3,493 (5th highest)

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14. Oklahoma
> Active duty personnel: 544 per 100,000 people (total: 21,455)
> Total no. of military bases: 12 (21st fewest)
> Largest base: Fort Sill (11,987 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,554 (11th highest)

13. Wyoming
> Active duty personnel: 554 per 100,000 people (total: 3,202)
> Total no. of military bases: 2 (the fewest)
> Largest base: Francis E Warren AFB (3,121 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $686 (16th lowest)

12. New Mexico
> Active duty personnel: 605 per 100,000 people (total: 12,677)
> Total no. of military bases: 10 (19th fewest)
> Largest base: Cannon AFB (4,650 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,250 (20th highest)

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11. Colorado
> Active duty personnel: 639 per 100,000 people (total: 36,372)
> Total no. of military bases: 20 (19th most)
> Largest base: Fort Carson (23,955 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,498 (13th highest)

10. Georgia
> Active duty personnel: 651 per 100,000 people (total: 68,450)
> Total no. of military bases: 29 (12th most)
> Largest base: Fort Benning (20,321 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,268 (19th highest)

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9. Kentucky
> Active duty personnel: 718 per 100,000 people (total: 32,103)
> Total no. of military bases: 7 (12th fewest)
> Largest base: Fort Campbell (26,520 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,845 (9th highest)

8. South Carolina
> Active duty personnel: 729 per 100,000 people (total: 37,047)
> Total no. of military bases: 15 (24th most)
> Largest base: Fort Jackson (11,599 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,021 (24th highest)

7. Kansas
> Active duty personnel: 756 per 100,000 people (total: 22,004)
> Total no. of military bases: 8 (14th fewest)
> Largest base: Fort Riley (15,078 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,067 (22nd highest)

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6. Washington
> Active duty personnel: 812 per 100,000 people (total: 61,201)
> Total no. of military bases: 29 (12th most)
> Largest base: Fort Lewis (26,103 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,055 (7th highest)

5. North Carolina
> Active duty personnel: 972 per 100,000 people (total: 100,936)
> Total no. of military bases: 24 (15th most)
> Largest base: Fort Bragg (45,011 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,015 (25th highest)

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4. North Dakota
> Active duty personnel: 987 per 100,000 people (total: 7,501)
> Total no. of military bases: 6 (8th fewest)
> Largest base: Minot AFB (5,668 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,057 (23rd highest)

3. Virginia
> Active duty personnel: 1,514 per 100,000 people (total: 128,957)
> Total no. of military bases: 51 (4th most)
> Largest base: Norfolk Naval Base (46,574 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $5,459 (the highest)

2. Alaska
> Active duty personnel: 2,680 per 100,000 people (total: 19,760)
> Total no. of military bases: 47 (6th most)
> Largest base: Fort Jonathan Wainwright (7,162 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $4,014 (4th highest)

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1. Hawaii
> Active duty personnel: 3,013 per 100,000 people (total: 42,797)
> Total no. of military bases: 49 (5th most)
> Largest base: Schofield Barracks (15,632 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $4,544 (2nd highest)


Methodology

To determine the states that have the most active-duty military personnel, 24/7 Wall St. used military personnel data from the Department of Defense, current as of March 2020 and adjusted per 100,000 total state population. We based our ranking on active duty personnel only — men and women serving in either the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard on a full-time basis.

Data on the largest base by personnel in each state came from the “2018 Demographics Report,” compiled by Defense Department contractor Military OneSource. Total base personnel counts only include service men and women.

Per capita Department of Defense spending figures by state came from the Office of Economic Adjustment and are for 2017, the most recent available year.

Total state population came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2018 1-Year Estimates.

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