Special Report

Countries Where America Has the Most Soldiers

The U.S. has an extensive global military network that by far is the world’s largest.

The country operates about 750 bases in 80 countries abroad. About 60% of these facilities are larger than 10 acres or worth more than $10 million, and they typically house at least 200 military personnel. Smaller bases, known as “Lily Pads,” make up the rest.

To find the countries where America has the most soldiers, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Aljazeera’s report: Infographic: US military presence around the world. Countries, including one U.S. territory, are ranked by the number of troops, with data as of July 2021. Total bases per country also comes from the report. The number of troops in Iraq were adjusted to reflect more recent information.

According to data from the Conflict Management and Peace Science Journal, the U.S. had about 173,000 troops deployed in 159 counties as of 2020. But most of these American active service members — about 160,000 of them — are located in 14 countries and Guam, an unincorporated Pacific island territory of the United States. (While the U.S. military is large, it is not the largest. This is the country with the largest military.)

Interestingly, the two countries with the largest U.S. overseas military presences are the ones that initiated World War II: Germany and Japan. What began as U.S. military occupations of these two defeated Axis states in the years after the war has evolved into cooperative relationships between close military, political, and economic allies.

The numbers of U.S. troops in any of these bases vary as active service members are regularly redeployed, but these estimates offer a snapshot of where the U.S. prioritizes its global security operations. For example, U.S. troops numbers have been edging downward in Germany but increasing in Italy, which is closer to the Middle East and North Africa. This reflects the shifting focus of the U.S.’s global security operations since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the ongoing global war on terror. (This is the year the most americans died in war.)

Of the top 15 largest U.S. overseas military presences, seven are located in countries of the North American Treaty Organization; four are in the Asia-Pacific region, including the unincorporated U.S. territory of Guam; three are in the Middle East; and one is located in the Caribbean: the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, America’s oldest overseas naval base.

Here is where America has the most soldiers.

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