Special Report

The County in Every State With the Most Military Personnel

Up against a recruitment crunch, the United States military is struggling to fill its ranks. Last year, the U.S. Army enlisted 15,000 fewer new troops than the 65,000 it had budgeted for. Due to a tight labor market and a shrinking group of younger Americans interested in a career in the armed services, the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy faced similar challenges. 

Despite these challenges, the United States military remains among the largest in the world. According to the Defense Department, there were nearly 1.2 million active-duty military personnel stationed in the U.S. in 2021 – not including more than 770,000 men and women in the National Guard and Reserve forces. (These are the 25 countries where the most people serve in the military.) 

Every state in the country is home to some number of active-duty troops, but numbers vary across the country, from fewer than 200 in some states, to well over 100,000 in others. Members of the armed services also tend to be concentrated within a given state at the local level. 

Using data from the DOD report Defense Spending By State Fiscal Year 2021, 24/7 Wall St. identified the county in each state with the most military personnel. In each state, we listed the county or county equivalent – such as independent cities, boroughs in Alaska, or parishes in Louisiana – home to the most active duty military troops, excluding reservists, the National Guard, and civilian Defense Department employees. 

There is at least one county or county equivalent in each state that is home to nearly a quarter of all troops in the state as a whole. In 15 states, a single county has over 80% of the state’s total active-duty military residents. 

The concentration of American military members in specific localities across the country is largely attributable to the presence of a major military installation. The Fort Campbell Army base, for example, is one of the largest military bases in the country. Because part of Fort Campbell is located in Christian County, Kentucky, the county is home to 82% of all active-duty service members in the state. (These are the states with the most military personnel.) 

Click here to see which county in every state has the most military personnel. 

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