The United States has by far the world’s largest overseas military network, with about 750 bases in 80 countries. About 60% of these bases are larger than 10 acres or worth more than $10 million, and they typically house at least 200 military personnel. The remaining 40% are smaller bases, known as “Lily Pads.” The countries with the most U.S. troops are all close allies of the United States, and their military bases play an important role in U.S. global security operations.
To find the nations 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 ordered by the number of troops, with data as of July 2021, the most recent data available as of September 2023. Total bases per country also comes from the report. The number of troops in Iraq were adjusted to reflect more recent information.
Based on data from the Conflict Management and Peace Science Journal in 2020, the United States had approximately 173,000 troops stationed across 159 countries. However, the majority of these active American service members, around 160,000 of them, were stationed in 14 countries and Guam, an unincorporated Pacific island territory under U.S. jurisdiction. (While the American military is large, it is not the largest. This is the country with the largest military.)
Interestingly, two countries among the largest U.S. military presence abroad are Germany and Japan, both of which were enemies of the United States in World War II. What initially began as U.S. military occupations of these defeated Axis powers in the post-war years has since transformed into cooperative relationships with close ties in military, political, and economic aspects.
The specific numbers of U.S. troops at these bases may fluctuate due to regular redeployments, but these estimates provide insight into where the United States places its highest priorities in terms of global security operations. For instance, the number of U.S. troops in Germany has been gradually decreasing, while their presence in Italy, closer to the Middle East and North Africa, has been on the rise. This shift reflects changes in the focus of U.S. global security efforts following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the ongoing global war on terror. (This is the year the most Americans died in war.)
Among the top 15 countries hosting the largest U.S. overseas military contingents, seven are within the North American Treaty Organization (NATO), four are situated in the Asia-Pacific region, including Guam, three are in the Middle East, and one can be found in the Caribbean: the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, the oldest overseas naval base operated by the United States.
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