Special Report

States Where the Most Americans Serve in the Military

Purplexsu / iStock via Getty Images

There are more than 1.3 million active-duty military personnel serving in the U.S. armed forces. Though they have different duties, they all work to defend the United States and its interests domestically and around the world.

While there are many thousands of service members stationed overseas, the vast majority of active-duty military members are stationed in the U.S. Some states are home to just a few hundred active service members, while others are home to far more. A handful of states have over 100,000 active duty service members stationed there.

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 June 2021 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.

The number of active-duty service members varies widely from state to state. In some, there are fewer than 10 service members per 100,000 residents. In others, there are over 1,000 per 100,000.

States with high concentrations of military members tend to have a handful of very large bases with tens of thousands of service members. These troops, along with their spouses, children, and other dependent relatives, make up a large share of the populations in these areas and often serve the backbone of local economies. These are America’s military cities.

Click here to see the states where the most Americans serve in the military
Click here to read our detailed methodology

Source: Smith Collection/Gado / Archive Photos via Getty Images

50. Iowa
> Active-duty personnel: 8.3 per 100,000 people (total: 261)
> Largest base: N/A
> Per capita defense spending: $788 (14th lowest)

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Source: virsuziglis / Getty Images

49. West Virginia
> Active-duty personnel: 9.9 per 100,000 people (total: 177)
> Largest base: N/A
> Per capita defense spending: $907 (18th lowest)

Source: jferrer / Getty Images

48. Minnesota
> Active-duty personnel: 11.7 per 100,000 people (total: 662)
> Largest base: Fort Snelling (262 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $473 (3rd lowest)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

47. Indiana
> Active-duty personnel: 16.3 per 100,000 people (total: 1,099)
> Largest base: Fort Benjamin Harrison (426 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $800 (15th lowest)

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Source: Barbara Davidson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

46. Wisconsin
> Active-duty personnel: 18.6 per 100,000 people (total: 1,084)
> Largest base: Fort McCoy (290 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,317 (25th highest)

Source: Leif Skoogfors / Corbis Historical via Getty Images

45. Pennsylvania
> Active-duty personnel: 19.2 per 100,000 people (total: 2,460)
> Largest base: Carlisle Barracks (503 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,415 (21st highest)

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Source: Darren56brown / Wikimedia Commons

44. Michigan
> Active-duty personnel: 21.2 per 100,000 people (total: 2,118)
> Largest base: Detroit Arsenal (127 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $653 (8th lowest)

Source: thenationalguard / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

43. Vermont
> Active-duty personnel: 28.0 per 100,000 people (total: 175)
> Largest base: Burlington IAP-AGS (113 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $783 (13th lowest)

Source: usnavy / Flickr

42. Tennessee
> Active-duty personnel: 37.4 per 100,000 people (total: 2,554)
> Largest base: Naval Support Activity Mid-South (676 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $745 (12th lowest)

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Source: Smith Collection/Gado / Archive Photos via Getty Images

41. Oregon
> Active-duty personnel: 45.7 per 100,000 people (total: 1,927)
> Largest base: N/A
> Per capita defense spending: $401 (2nd lowest)

Source: Darren McCollester / Getty Images News via Getty Images

40. Massachusetts
> Active-duty personnel: 52.1 per 100,000 people (total: 3,589)
> Largest base: Hanscom AFB (833 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,298 (12th highest)

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Source: thenationalguard / Flickr

39. Maine
> Active-duty personnel: 58.2 per 100,000 people (total: 783)
> Largest base: Brunswhick NAS (404 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,961 (7th highest)

38. Ohio
> Active-duty personnel: 59.1 per 100,000 people (total: 6,910)
> Largest base: Wright-Patterson AFB (5,401 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $858 (17th lowest)

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

37. New Hampshire
> Active-duty personnel: 89.2 per 100,000 people (total: 1,213)
> Largest base: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (959 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,268 (13th highest)

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36. New Jersey
> Active-duty personnel: 93.1 per 100,000 people (total: 8,268)
> Largest base: McGuire AFB (4,510 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,012 (21st lowest)

Source: John Moore / Getty Images

35. New York
> Active-duty personnel: 106.8 per 100,000 people (total: 20,771)
> Largest base: Fort Drum (15,195 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $597 (5th lowest)

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Source: usdagov / Flickr

34. Arkansas
> Active-duty personnel: 127.7 per 100,000 people (total: 3,853)
> Largest base: Little Rock AFB (3,536 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $545 (4th lowest)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

33. Utah
> Active-duty personnel: 144.9 per 100,000 people (total: 4,647)
> Largest base: Hill AFB (4,201 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,776 (18th highest)

Source: Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings / U.S. Air Force

32. Alabama
> Active-duty personnel: 170.3 per 100,000 people (total: 8,351)
> Largest base: Fort Rucker (3,860 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $3,263 (6th highest)

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Source: usnavy / Flickr

31. Illinois
> Active-duty personnel: 179.7 per 100,000 people (total: 22,767)
> Largest base: Naval Station Great Lakes (15,726 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $695 (10th lowest)

Source: Drew Angerer / Getty Images News via Getty Images

30. Connecticut
> Active-duty personnel: 198.6 per 100,000 people (total: 7,081)
> Largest base: New London NAVSUBBASE (6,385 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $5,521 (2nd highest)

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Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

29. Idaho
> Active-duty personnel: 203.5 per 100,000 people (total: 3,637)
> Largest base: Mountain Home AFB (3,387 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $394 (the lowest)

Source: tradoc / Flickr

28. Missouri
> Active-duty personnel: 249.4 per 100,000 people (total: 15,308)
> Largest base: Fort Leonard Wood (12,218 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,440 (10th highest)

Source: John van Hasselt - Corbis / Sygma via Getty Images

27. Arizona
> Active-duty personnel: 267.7 per 100,000 people (total: 19,482)
> Largest base: Davis-Monthan AFB (5,995 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,076 (15th highest)

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Source: usairforce / Flickr

26. Montana
> Active-duty personnel: 314.2 per 100,000 people (total: 3,358)
> Largest base: Malmstrom AFB (3,242 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $617 (6th lowest)

Source: usnavy / Flickr

25. Rhode Island
> Active-duty personnel: 321.2 per 100,000 people (total: 3,403)
> Largest base: Naval Station Newport (3,269 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,394 (22nd highest)

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24. Florida
> Active-duty personnel: 323.3 per 100,000 people (total: 69,431)
> Largest base: Mayport NAVSTA (10,442 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,389 (23rd highest)

Source: thenationalguard / Flickr

23. Nebraska
> Active-duty personnel: 331.7 per 100,000 people (total: 6,416)
> Largest base: Offutt AFB (6,012 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $832 (16th lowest)

Source: drum10thmountain / Flickr

22. Louisiana
> Active-duty personnel: 340.5 per 100,000 people (total: 15,831)
> Largest base: Fort Polk (7,783 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $678 (9th lowest)

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Source: usairforce / Flickr

21. Delaware
> Active-duty personnel: 378.5 per 100,000 people (total: 3,686)
> Largest base: Dover AFB (3,484 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $651 (7th lowest)

20. South Dakota
> Active-duty personnel: 391.0 per 100,000 people (total: 3,459)
> Largest base: Ellsworth AFB (3,348 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $695 (11th lowest)

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Source: soldiersmediacenter / Flickr

19. Mississippi
> Active-duty personnel: 396.3 per 100,000 people (total: 11,795)
> Largest base: Keesler AFB (5,162 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,108 (14th highest)

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images News via Getty Images

18. Nevada
> Active-duty personnel: 402.7 per 100,000 people (total: 12,403)
> Largest base: Nellis AFB (10,168 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $974 (19th lowest)

Source: Bobbie DeHerrera / Getty Images

17. Texas
> Active-duty personnel: 413.2 per 100,000 people (total: 119,808)
> Largest base: Fort Bliss (26,100 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,889 (16th highest)

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Source: David McNew / Getty Images News via Getty Images

16. California
> Active-duty personnel: 427.8 per 100,000 people (total: 169,022)
> Largest base: Camp Pendleton (39,690 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,676 (20th highest)

Source: Brooks Kraft / Getty Images

15. Maryland
> Active-duty personnel: 508.9 per 100,000 people (total: 30,764)
> Largest base: Fort George G. Meade (11,140 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $4,311 (5th highest)

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14. Oklahoma
> Active-duty personnel: 544.7 per 100,000 people (total: 21,553)
> Largest base: Fort Sill (13,310 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,698 (19th highest)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

13. Wyoming
> Active-duty personnel: 564.7 per 100,000 people (total: 3,268)
> Largest base: Francis E Warren AFB (3,066 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $997 (20th lowest)

12. New Mexico
> Active-duty personnel: 610.5 per 100,000 people (total: 12,801)
> Largest base: Cannon AFB (4,633 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,912 (8th highest)

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Source: Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

11. Georgia
> Active-duty personnel: 649.7 per 100,000 people (total: 68,979)
> Largest base: Fort Benning (24,305 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,320 (24th highest)

Source: Chmiel / Getty Images

10. Colorado
> Active-duty personnel: 658.7 per 100,000 people (total: 37,932)
> Largest base: Fort Carson (24,520 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,835 (17th highest)

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Source: armyrotc / Flickr / Public Domain

9. South Carolina
> Active-duty personnel: 704.3 per 100,000 people (total: 36,260)
> Largest base: Fort Jackson (11,545 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,147 (23rd lowest)

8. Kansas
> Active-duty personnel: 748.9 per 100,000 people (total: 21,819)
> Largest base: Fort Riley (15,214 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,162 (24th lowest)

7. Washington
> Active-duty personnel: 801.1 per 100,000 people (total: 61,001)
> Largest base: Fort Lewis (26,512 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,343 (11th highest)

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Source: Luke Sharrett / Getty Images

6. Kentucky
> Active-duty personnel: 808.5 per 100,000 people (total: 36,120)
> Largest base: Fort Campbell (26,824 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $2,810 (9th highest)

Source: Logan Mock-Bunting / Getty Images

5. North Carolina
> Active-duty personnel: 964.8 per 100,000 people (total: 101,191)
> Largest base: Fort Bragg (45,055 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,171 (25th lowest)

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4. North Dakota
> Active-duty personnel: 998.9 per 100,000 people (total: 7,612)
> Largest base: Minot AFB (5,625 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $1,070 (22nd lowest)

Source: usnavy / Flickr

3. Virginia
> Active-duty personnel: 1,522.9 per 100,000 people (total: 129,988)
> Largest base: Norfolk Naval Base (47,368 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $7,066 (the highest)

Source: Public Affairs Office Fort Wainwright / Flickr

2. Alaska
> Active-duty personnel: 2,853.3 per 100,000 people (total: 20,873)
> Largest base: Fort Jonathan Wainwright (6,117 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $4,804 (4th highest)

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Source: Phil Mislinski / Getty Images

1. Hawaii
> Active-duty personnel: 3,002.2 per 100,000 people (total: 42,508)
> Largest base: Schofield Barracks (15,057 active duty personnel)
> Per capita defense spending: $5,280 (3rd 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 June 2021 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 “2019 Demographics Report,” compiled by Defense Department contractor Military OneSource. Total base personnel counts only include servicemen and servicewomen.

Per capita Department of Defense spending figures by state came from the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation and are for fiscal 2019, the most recent available year.

Total state population are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

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