Special Report

The Newest American Military Bases Abroad

statephotos / Flickr

The U.S. has 750 military bases in 80 countries, according to data from the Cato Institute. After bases in the U.S., the biggest bases tend to be in Europe. And though American troops are sometimes required all over the world, most of the newer U.S. bases have opened in Europe.

To determine the newest U.S. active military bases that are overseas, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the study, U.S. Military Bases Abroad, 1776-2021 by David Vine, professor at the department of anthropology at American University. We ranked the 29 bases that opened since 2017 according to the year that they opened and then according to active-duty personnel within each country. Data on the number of active-duty personnel and bases within each country came from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a military think-tank.

The U.S. military has both reduced its presence in some places and increased it elsewhere since the Cold War ended. There are about half as many military bases worldwide today compared to the early 1990s, but these bases are located in twice as many countries and territories, according to the Quincy Institute. While Europe has been a location for American military installations since World War II, the U.S. has also been adding bases in the Middle East, East Asia, and Africa in recent years.

Still, more than half of the 29 newest U.S. bases are in Europe. Some of them have opened in  countries previously allied with the former Soviet Union – Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary – as well as the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia that were under the Soviet thumb. Many of these countries have joined NATO. (See, all NATO members ranked by military power.)

Somalia and Syria each have three U.S. bases that have opened since 2017. The bases in northern Syria are in the rebel-held territory and in the al-Tanf area near the border with Iraq and Jordan. The Syrian government has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the U.S. bases. (Also see, 21 bases where the U.S. military trains its combat forces.)

There is a growing debate over the need for so many U.S. overseas facilities. Critics cite the cost of maintaining farflung infrastructure. U.S. international bases cost taxpayers an estimated $55 billion a year, according to the Quincy Institute. 

There are also concerns that the bases are a lightning rod for hostility toward the United States and serve as propaganda for recruiting for militant groups. The Quincy Institute notes that foreign bases have made it easier for America to become involved in wars of choice.

Click here to see the newest US military bases outside the country.

29. Dirkou, Niger
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Dirkou, Niger
> Active-duty personnel in country: 21
> US bases in country: 8 — #16 most out of 80 (tied)

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

28. Arlit, Niger
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Arlit, Niger
> Active-duty personnel in country: 21
> US bases in country: 8 — #16 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: Gelia / iStock via Getty Images

27. Sidi Ahmed Air Base, Tunisia
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Bizerte, Tunisia
> Active-duty personnel in country: 26
> US bases in country: 1 — #50 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: Nadav Neuhaus / Getty Images News via Getty Images

26. Mashabim Air Base, Israel
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Dimona, Israel
> Active-duty personnel in country: 127
> US bases in country: 6 — #21 most out of 80 (tied)

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25. Cincu Training Base, Romania
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Cincu, Romania
> Active-duty personnel in country: 165
> US bases in country: 6 — #21 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: 39955793@N07 / Flickr

24. Powidz, Poland
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Powidz, Poland
> Active-duty personnel in country: 226
> US bases in country: 4 — #30 most out of 80 (tied)

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Source: my_public_domain_photos / Flickr

23. Ponzan, Poland
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Krzesiny, Poland
> Active-duty personnel in country: 226
> US bases in country: 4 — #30 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

22. Zaqaf, Syria
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Al-Tanf, Syria
> Active-duty personnel in country: 900
> US bases in country: 4 — #30 most out of 80 (tied)

21. Tal Baydar, Syria
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Tal Baydar, Syria
> Active-duty personnel in country: 900
> US bases in country: 4 — #30 most out of 80 (tied)

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

20. Zutendaal, Belgium
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Zutendaal, Belgium
> Active-duty personnel in country: 1,869
> US bases in country: 11 — #12 most out of 80 (tied)

19. Duelmen Tower Barracks, Germany
> Opening year: 2017
> Location: Dulmen, Germany
> Active-duty personnel in country: 46,562
> US bases in country: 119 — #1 most out of 80 (tied)

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18. Keflavik, Iceland
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Keflavik, Iceland
> Active-duty personnel in country: 03
> US bases in country: 2 — #39 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: DanielBendjy / E+ via Getty Images

17. Radar Site, Republic of Palau
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Peleliu Island, Palau
> Active-duty personnel in country: 12
> US bases in country: 3 — #34 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: Jozsef Soos / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

16. Sliac, Slovakia
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Sliac, Slovakia
> Active-duty personnel in country: 12
> US bases in country: 2 — #39 most out of 80 (tied)

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15. Malacky-Kuchyna, Slovakia
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Malacky, Slovakia
> Active-duty personnel in country: 12
> US bases in country: 2 — #39 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

14. Lielvarde AB, Latvia
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Lielvarde, Latvia
> Active-duty personnel in country: 14
> US bases in country: 1 — #50 most out of 80 (tied)

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Source: 39955793@N07 / Flickr

13. Amari Air Base, Estonia
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Harju County, Estonia
> Active-duty personnel in country: 17
> US bases in country: 1 — #50 most out of 80 (tied)

12. Sanem, Luxembourg
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Sanem, Luxembourg
> Active-duty personnel in country: 21
> US bases in country: 1 — #50 most out of 80 (tied)

11. Kecskemet Air Base, Hungary
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Bacs-Kiskun County, Hungary
> Active-duty personnel in country: 82
> US bases in country: 2 — #39 most out of 80 (tied)

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10. Campia Turzii Air Base, Romania
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Cluj County, Romania
> Active-duty personnel in country: 165
> US bases in country: 6 — #21 most out of 80 (tied)

9. Rygge, Norway
> Opening year: 2018
> Location: Viken County, Norway
> Active-duty personnel in country: 167
> US bases in country: 7 — #19 most out of 80 (tied)

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Source: au_unistphotostream / Flickr

8. Kismayo, Somalia
> Opening year: 2019
> Location: Juba Valley, Somalia
> Active-duty personnel in country: 71
> US bases in country: 5 — #28 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images News via Getty Images

7. Galcayo, Somalia
> Opening year: 2019
> Location: Mudug Region, Somalia
> Active-duty personnel in country: 71
> US bases in country: 5 — #28 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. Bosaaso, Somalia
> Opening year: 2019
> Location: Gulf of Aden coast, Somalia
> Active-duty personnel in country: 71
> US bases in country: 5 — #28 most out of 80 (tied)

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Source: 39955793@N07 / Flickr

5. Basa Air Base, Philippines
> Opening year: 2019
> Location: Pampanga, Philippines
> Active-duty personnel in country: 155
> US bases in country: 8 — #16 most out of 80 (tied)

Source: cne-cna-c6f / Flickr

4. Redzikowo, Poland
> Opening year: 2019
> Location: Gdansk, Poland
> Active-duty personnel in country: 226
> US bases in country: 4 — #30 most out of 80 (tied)

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Source: statephotos / Flickr

3. Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia
> Opening year: 2019
> Location: Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia
> Active-duty personnel in country: 693
> US bases in country: 11 — #12 most out of 80 (tied)

2. Dier Ez Zour, Syria
> Opening year: 2019
> Location: Deir ez-Zor, Syria
> Active-duty personnel in country: 900
> US bases in country: 4 — #30 most out of 80 (tied)

1. Andreas Papandreou Base, Cyprus
> Opening year: 2020
> Location: Paphos, Cyprus
> Active-duty personnel in country: 10
> US bases in country: 1 — #50 most out of 80 (tied)

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