Major U.S. Military Bases and Installations in 2021 – Domestic & Overseas

in Research   Posted on April 14, 2021  Author: Imed Bouchrika,

The two great world wars forever changed the United States’ attitude towards its role in the world, from a country that wanted nothing to do with armed conflicts outside its own borders to one that proactively keeps an eye on global threats and stays on top of them (Mawdsley, E., 2019).

While the European and Pacific theatres of war severely tested the military capabilities of the U.S. (Klein, 2020), the Cold War further stretched its ability to defend its political philosophy and intelligence capability in the face of the global communist threat posed by the U.S.S.R. and China. Post-Cold War and into modern times, the U.S. had to grapple with Russia and the quickly rising China (“Elements of the China Challenge, pp. 17-27). Amidst all these developments, the major U.S. military bases and installations domestic and overseas remain the centerpiece of the country’s twin principles: deterrence and reassurance (Frederick, Watts, Lane, Doll, Rhoades, & Smith, 2020).

major U.S. military bases and installations

Major U.S. Military Bases and Installations Worldwide

  1. U.S. Military Bases and Installations – Domestic
  2. U.S. Military Bases and Installations – Overseas

U.S. Military Bases and Installations – Domestic

Based on such factors as military equipment firepower, manpower, logistics, finance, and natural resources, the U.S. has consistently placed on top of the global firepower rankings since 2005, the year such rankings started.

Looking at the military spending of countries all over the world, it is easy to see why: the U.S. simply outspends every country on the list, spending almost triple its nearest competitor, China. More tellingly, the U.S. actually spends more than the next top ten countries combined.

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 2020

With the combined power of its economy, population, natural resources, vast territory, and advanced industries, the U.S. successfully rallied its people and allies through World Wars I and II. After the breakup of the U.S.S.R. that brought the Cold War to a close, the U.S. emerged as the only true superpower of the world. The U.S. has assumed the role of the global police since then, a viewpoint that supported its continued maintenance of military bases and installations both domestic and overseas.

With that in mind, we look at the U.S. military bases around the world in 2021, starting with the largest U.S. military bases that are strategically spread among its domestic territories.

1. Nellis Air Force Range

Nellis Air Force Range

State: Nevada

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 4,531.25 square miles (2.9 million acres) of land, 5,000 square miles of airspace, which is restricted from civilian air traffic over-flight, and another 7,000 square miles of Military Operating Area, or MOA, which is shared with civilian aircraft. The 12,000-square-nautical mile range provides a realistic arena for operational testing and training of aircrew to improve combat readiness.

Personnel: 9,500

Part of the United States Air Force’s Air Combat Command, Nellis Air Force Base provides almost 13,000 square miles of restricted airspace and ranges for military flight operations. Nellis provides a wide array of aircraft for its primary mission, advanced combat aviation training for fighters, bombers, refuelers, close-air-support, combat search-and-rescue, command-and-control, and transport.

To support this mission, Nellis employs around 9,500 military and civilian personnel. The huge number puts it among the single largest employers in Southern Nevada. In addition, the economic impact of the base includes more than 40,000 military family members and retirees living inside the base.

Nellis made its mark in World War II, turning in more than 215 copilots and 600 gunners every 5 weeks during the height of the war. Nellis started out as the Las Vegas Army Air Field in late 1941.

2. White Sands Missile Range

White Sands Missile Range

State: New Mexico

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: around 3,200 square miles (2,048,000 acres)

Personnel: 1,651

The White Sands Missile Range was established in 1944 to provide the dedicated research and development needed to enhance the accuracy of the U.S. military’s nascent guided missiles technology. To this end, White Sands brings together the best minds in the field and the required land and air assets for cutting-edge research, development, test, evaluation, experimentation, and training facilities to maintain the country’s defense readiness.

Aside from serving as the primary open-air test range for the U.S., the White Sands Missile Range also extends its extensive guided missiles R&D to longstanding Allied countries. Additionally, its first-class facilities also make it an ideal alternate orbiter landing site and training area for astronauts involved in the country’s shuttle missions.

3. Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range

Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range

State: Arizona

Service Branch: Air Force and Marine Corps

Physical Size: 2,500 square miles (1.6 million acres)

Personnel: 705

Established in 1941 to train U.S. Air Corps pilots for World War II and comprising a semicircular array of military air bases, airspace, and ranges that form a highly flexible training complex, the Barry M. Goldwater Range serves as an armament high-hazard testing area for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force. In addition, it provides the vast space needed for aerial gunnery training, tactical maneuvering and air support, rocketry and electronic warfare, as well as the R&D center for equipment research and tactics.

Research and development in the Barry M. Goldwater Range have grown tremendously with the times. For example, while military aircraft during World War II could engage and fire at enemy targets from a distance of about 600 feet, today’s versions could shoot down similar targets from 25 miles away.

In the recent Persian Gulf war, the Barry M. Goldwater Range served as the primary training ground for around 95% of all the fighter pilots who saw action in the Middle East arena.

4. Fort Bliss

Fort Bliss

State: Texas

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 1,750 square miles (1.12 million acres)

Personnel: 38,500

Located in El Paso, Texas, Fort Bliss was established in 1848. It is currently home to the First Armored Division, which returned to U.S. soil in 2011 after 40 years in Germany. Also known as “Old Ironsides’—the Army’s oldest and most renowned armored unit—the First Armored Division is the fort’s largest resident.

Also calling Fort Bliss home are the Joint Task Force – North, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, the Eleventh Air Defense Artillery Brigade, the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, and the Brigade Modernization Command. Other important U.S. agencies have offices in El Paso, among them the FBI, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and the DEA.

At the height of the Cold War, thousands of U.S. soldiers trained at Fort Bliss. It figured prominently in the nation’s objective of mastering the building and operation of missiles to further the defense of the U.S.

5. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake

State: California

Service Branch: Navy

Physical Size: 1,718.75 square miles (1.1 million acres)

Personnel: 8,120

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake (NAWS China Lake) provides the crucial infrastructure to support the U.S. Navy’s RDAT&E (Research, Development, Acquisition, Test & Evaluation) mission. The infrastructure is shore-based and comprises range and airfield support, base operating support services, Navy training capability, and safety and security, among others.

The immense size of the NAWS China Lake makes it the Navy’s largest single landholding, representing 38% of the Navy’s total landholding worldwide. The RDAT&E activities in the NAWS China Lake also represents 85% of the Navy’s total.

The vast majority of RDAT&E activities at NAWS China Lake are carried out by the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), which is also the main tenant of the base.

6. Fort Wainwright

Fort Wainwright

State: Alaska

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 1,403 square miles (898,000 acres)

Personnel: 9,400

Established in 1939, the vast Fort Wainwright in Alaska serves as the primary testing center of equipment and training grounds for soldiers under arctic conditions. Fort Wainwright’s physical and support infrastructure allows it to conduct maintenance of both aircraft and vehicles, power generation, and landfill operations.

Calling Fort Wainwright home are the First Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division and the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB). The 16th CAB is responsible for providing logistical air support to the U.S. Army in Alaska.

Also calling Fort Wainwright home are the Northern Warfare Training Center, 507th Signal Company, 65th Explosive Ordnance Disposal, the 9th Army Band, and the Bassett Army Community Hospital.

7. Yukon Command Training Site

Yukon Command Training Site

State: Alaska

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 1,351 square miles (864,769 acres)

Personnel: N/A

Established in 1955 and based in Fort Wainwright, the Yukon Command Training Site provides a training ground for soldiers in small weapons systems. The Yukon Command itself initially served as a component of the U.S. Army Alaska (USARAL), which was commissioned to cover the ground and air defense of Alaska.

Yukon Command Training Site plays its part in the development of the U.S. military’s cold-weather and mountain-warfare doctrines.

8. Yuma Proving Ground

Yuma Proving Ground

State: Arizona

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 1,300 square miles (832,000 acres)

Personnel: 2,400

Established in 1943 as Yuma Test Branch and renamed in 1963 to its current name, Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) is primarily tasked to conduct environmental tests of military equipment. The new mission is a departure from the first, which was to prepare U.S. soldiers for North African desert campaigns during World War II.

Part of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, YPG is one of only two general-purpose proving grounds within the command. In general, YPG operates on its mission of developing and operating tests for artillery weapons and ammunition, aircraft armament systems, mobility equipment, and air delivery systems. Specifically, it is heavily involved in the testing of ground and aircraft weapons, artillery and mortars, target acquisition and fire control systems, wheeled and tracked vehicles, and air delivery material, equipment, and techniques.

The only unit that is actually assigned to the YPG is the Headquarters Support Troop. The rest of the units within the installation are only attached for duty.

9. Dugway Proving Ground

Dugway Proving Ground

State: Utah

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 1,248 square miles (798,855 acres)

Personnel: 1,500

Established in 1942, Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) is tasked with the primary mission of providing the U.S. and its allies combat readiness and survival from all types of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction. To accomplish the mission, DPG is equipped with cutting-edge laboratories and chambers to conduct test experiments under the tightest environmentally controlled conditions.

As an extension of its mission, DPG is also tasked by the Defense Department to find the best response to battlefield smokes and obscurants. In recent years, DPG has also collaborated with Civil Support Teams in order to deal with nuclear, biological, and chemical incidents as well as all forms of terrorist attacks.

10. Barry M. Goldwater Range West

Barry M. Goldwater Range West

State: Arizona

Service Branch: Marine Corps

Physical Size: 1,080.87 square miles (691,759 acres)

Personnel: N/A

Managed by MCAS Yuma, the western portion of the sprawling Barry M. Goldwater Range is primarily mandated to provide the U.S. Marine Corps with intermediate and advanced tactical air-to-ground and air-to-air aviation training and convoy training. Its immense space and state-of-the-art infrastructure and support services allow it to train around 80% of all Marine Corps Aviation units before their official deployment.

BMGR-W is capable of conducting simultaneous multiple training missions. The use of a realistic, situational military training approach is fully in line with the Marine Corps’ aviation training objectives. With the addition of a new F-35 Auxiliary Landing Field in the BMGR, the western portion will see more active operations in its space.

11. Twentynine Palms Main Base

Twentynine Palms Main Base

State: California

Service Branch: Marine Corps

Physical Size: 931.7 square miles (596,288 acres)

Personnel: 33,500

Under the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Training Command, the Twentynine Palms Main Base is another sprawling space in a contiguous piece of land that has been under military use since 1940—first by the Army, then the Navy, and, since 1953, by the Marine Corps.

As with MAGTF Training Command, the Twentynine Palms Main Base operates under the two-fold mission of (1) promoting the battle-readiness of operating forces by conducting live-fire combined arms training and (2) providing the requisite facilities, support, and services that meet the needs of the tenant marines, sailors, commands, and their families within the base.

12. Utah Test and Training Range South

Utah Test and Training Range South

State: Utah

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 572,656 acres

Personnel: N/A

The Utah Test and Training Range South (UTTR-S) is the southern portion of the huge Utah Test and Training Range located in Utah’s West Desert. The grounds for the range has been in use by the military since 1942 before assuming its current designation in 1979. While the military installation is maintained and administered by the U.S. Air Force’s HQ UTTR, both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army conducts a variety of training and testing operations there.

Specifically, the UTTR is where the U.S. military frequently disposes of explosive ordnance, tests experimental military equipment, and trains U.S. soldiers in both ground and air combat exercises. The UTTR conducts these military training exercises in close conjunction with the Dugway Proving Ground.

Finally, the UTTR has been chosen by NASA to provide the landing site for a number of its planetary science missions. Among these are the Generis, OSIRIS-Rex, and the Stardust missions.

13. Cusick Survival Training Site

Cusick Survival Training Site

State: Washington

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 494,250 acres

Personnel: N/A

Cusick Survival Training Site in Washington provides the primary site for the combat survival training group of the U.S. Air Force, the 336th Training Group, to conduct combat training in survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) for aircrew. The instruction imparts the principles, techniques, and skills crucial to surviving the harshest combat situations.

SERE instruction typically covers signaling, building shelters, and fires. Students learn the life-saving technique of camouflage and evasion in order to escape enemies, survive, and make it back safely. Aircrew training instructors themselves undergo around six months of high-intensity special courses in order to qualify as instructors. A 19-day, level-7 upgrade course for SERE training instructors is also available.

14. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake Randsburg Wash Area

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake Randsburg Wash Area

State: California

Service Branch: Navy

Physical Size: 469,729 acres

Personnel: N/A

Another large military installation located at China Lake, the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake Randsburg Wash Area is home to an electronic warfare range complex that serves as a testing and evaluation ground for new and future weaponry, including unmanned aerial systems.

While initially established in 1950, the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake Randsburg Wash Area came to use only in 1952. At the time, the Navy used the area to test proximity fuzes under conditions that simulated actual tactical conditions. The use of proximity fuzes was hailed as one of the four great contributions of American science to the country’s World War II efforts. The other three were the atomic bomb, jet-propelled engine, and radar.

At the outset, the base was envisioned as part of an ideal location to test some of the most promising weapons developed by Caltech scientists. The ultimate objective was to mass-produce the weapons for release to the American and Allied fleet during the war.

15. Eglin Air Force Base

Eglin Air Force Base

State: Florida

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 720 square miles (460,800 acres)

Personnel: 21,170

Under the Air Force Materiel Command and with the 96th Test Wing as the host unit, Eglin Air Force Base serves as the center of all matters relating to Air Force armaments. It is responsible for the “development, acquisition, testing, deployment and sustainment of all air-delivered non-nuclear weapons.”

Established in 1935, Eglin participated actively in World War II and the Cold War. Under its new command, Eglin is now tasked to plan, direct, and conduct test and evaluation of U.S. and allied armament, navigation and guidance systems, and command and control systems.

Aside from the 96th Test Wing, around 40 other tenant units are present in Eglin Air Force Base. The units represent virtually every major command of the U.S. military.

16. Chocolate Mountain Air Gunnery Range

Chocolate Mountain Air Gunnery Range

State: California

Service Branch: Marine Corps, Navy

Physical Size: 717 square miles (459,000 acres)

Personnel: N/A

Under the joint jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, the vast Chocolate Mountain Air Gunnery Range (CMAGR) provides expansive airspace and varied terrain ideal for rocket and strafing exercises, air tactics, air-to-ground bombing, Close Air Support (CAS) exercises, and laser technology operations.

Established prior to World War II, CMAGR was seen as a perfect site to prepare for the approaching war. It also played a key role in the country’s military operations in the Middle East conflict.

Navy and Marine Corps training units can easily appreciate the vast possibilities that the immense range and airspace offer. The CMAGR delivers unique five target areas, each one populated with various individual targets.

17. Yakima Training Center

Yakima Training Center

State: Washington

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 660 square miles (422,400 acres)

Personnel: N/A

Like other entries in this list, the Yakima Training Center (YTC) started life as a direct response to the growing menaces of Europe before World War II formally began. From a temporary military camp, it underwent various mission and administration changes before becoming a permanent military base that plays a permanent role in U.S. and Allied forces training and deployment.

YTC is primarily charged with providing the staging area for live-fire training, tactical maneuvering for single and combined arms exercises for Fort Lewis and other visiting units, and exposing military units to realistic combat scenarios and equipment use. YTC also supports mobilization and post-mobilization training courses for the Reserve Component Forces.

Often called Yakistan by troops because of its climate that recalls Afghanistan, YTC also conducts instruction programs in aircraft maneuvering. It also plays a crucial role in ECHELON, the global surveillance network under the National Security Agency.

18. Utah Test and Training Range North

Yakima Training Center

State: Utah

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 573 square miles (366,877 acres)

Personnel: N/A

The Utah Test and Training Range – North (UTTR-N) is the northern component of the UTTR. Several miles from Interstate Highway 80 separate it from its UTTR-S counterpart. The HQ UTTR by the U.S. Air Force is tasked to maintain and administer the base.

As with its south counterpart, UTTR-N provides the ideal site for various testing and training missions for the U.S. military. Specifically, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force frequently conduct their training activities in the area.

19. Edwards Air Force Base

Edwards Air Force Base

State: California

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 470 square miles (300,800 acres)

Personnel: 8,774

Edwards Air Force Base is the Air Force Materiel Command center tasked with the primary mission of conducting and supporting crucial flight research and development. Likewise, it is charged with testing and evaluating aerospace systems from concept to combat.

Edwards Air Force Base also serves as home to the Air Force Test Pilot School and the Air Force Test Center. NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center is also based there. Its vast airspace and landscape make it the preferred site of numerous test activities for the country’s commercial aerospace industry. The first landings of the Space Shuttle occurred in the area.

20. Fort Stewart

Fort Stewart

State: Georgia

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 436.36 square miles (279,270 acres)

Personnel: 24,500

Established by Congress in 1940, Fort Stewart is one of the most prominent military training and armored power projection staging ground sites maintained and administered by the U.S. Army. Initially conceived as an anti-aircraft artillery training center during World War II, it has taken on several mission changes in order to ensure the defense of the country.

The famous 24th Infantry Division once called Fort Stewart its home. The Victory Division, as it is fondly known, had seen prolonged action in the Pacific during World War II and the Korean War. It served as an element of NATO forces tasked to defend Western Europe. The 24th Division saw heavy action in the Persian Gulf War as well.

The U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Stewart is charged with organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling garrison support and service. It is also responsible for the overall management of the garrison workforce.

21. Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site

Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site

State: Colorado

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 368.6 square miles (235,896 acres)

Personnel: N/A

The Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) is a large training site created for the use of the U.S. Army based in Fort Carson. The area’s varied terrain populated with rocky hills and mesas makes it an ideal place for critical maneuver lands for Fort Carson units and those coming from other military bases.

In terms of space devoted to maneuver training, PCMS and Fort Carson are second only to Fort Irwin, which is located in Irwin, California. PCMS can host “a full range of maneuver training, including brigade-level, force-on-force maneuvers. (“Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, n.d.)” Training units on the site have an airstrip, helipads, a railhead, and a cantonment area to their disposal.

PCMS “hosts two major military exercises a year. In each exercise roughly 5,000 troops, 300 heavy tracked vehicles and 400 wheeled vehicles take to the expansive wilderness in a month-long, intensive war maneuver exercises (“Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, n.d.).”

22. Fort Hood

Fort Hood

State: Texas

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 336 square miles (214,968 acres)

Personnel: 45,808

One of the largest U.S. military installations in the world, Fort Hood serves as home to the III Corps, 1st Medical Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command, First Army Division West, as well as numerous Command and units from other Forces.

Established in 1942 to test and train with World War II tank destroyers, Fort Hood has since played many roles for the U.S. military, from testing new equipment, tactics, and introduction of new organizations. It played a crucial role in the Army deployments to the Middle East during the 1990s and 2000s.

As a major military installation, Fort Hood has earned some unique and enigmatic reputation throughout the years. Specifically, it has found itself in the middle of investigations because of sexual misconduct and procedural violations among its soldiers and officers. As well, the very name of the base has come under intense scrutiny for those who want to abolish the practice of naming U.S. military bases after Confederate generals. As it is, the base was named after the Confederate General John Bell Hood, who commanded Hood’s Texas Brigade during the American Civil War. On the other end of the spectrum, Fort Hood is also renowned for widely supporting antiwar activities.

23. Fort Polk

Fort Polk

State: Louisiana

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 309.4 square miles (198,000 acres)

Personnel: 13,711

Starting as the base for the Louisiana Maneuvers in the 1940s, Fort Polk figured prominently as a basic and advanced training post during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s. A small area of Fort Polk with jungle-like vegetation and environment that are similar to Vietnam and much of Southeast Asia served as a crucial training ground for Vietnam-bound units at this point. It is for this reason that Fort Polk sent more soldiers to Vietnam than any other American military base during the period. Soldiers often refer to this training area as Tigerland, with Fort Polk being the only stateside Army post many of them saw before being shipped overseas.

During World War II, the base also served as a military prison for German soldiers captured during battle operations. In 1955, the U.S. military conducted Operation Sagebrush to evaluate the performance of the U.S. armed forces during a nuclear environment. Lasting 15 days and involving 85,000 troops, the military exercise covered a significant portion of Louisiana.

Currently, the following units call Fort Polk home: the Joint Readiness Training Center, the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, U.S. Army Garrison, 115th Combat Support Hospital, the National Guard, and the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital.

24. Fort Benning

Fort Benning

State: Georgia

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 308.11 square miles (197,190.4 acres)

Personnel: 36,500

In 1918, Camp Benning was charged with providing postwar training to returning World War I units. It was granted permanent military post status by Congress in 1920. Renamed Fort Benning in 1922, the base has proven crucial to various U.S. military campaigns, from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the Middle East engagements.

Fort Benning is a power projection platform, which means it possesses the capacity to deploy and sustain forces outside its territory. Additionally, it is capable of deploying combat-ready forces by air, rail, and highway. It serves as the center of gravity in the Army for producing trained combat soldiers and is the primary driver for the sustained development of the future U.S. military force.

There are four main cantonment areas on Fort Benning: Main Post, Kelley Hill, Sand Hill, and Harmony Church.

Fort Benning is currently the home of the United States Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, the United States Army Armor School, United States Army Infantry School, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas), elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment (United States), the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, and other tenant units.

25. Fort Hunter Liggett

Fort Hunter Liggett

State: California

Service Branch: Army Reserve

Physical Size: 257.8 square miles (165,000 acres)

Personnel: 265

Established in 1942, Fort Hunter Liggett was mainly created for the U.S. Army for field maneuvers and live-fire exercises. From the 1970s to the early 1990s, the Training and Experimentation Command made the base its home, using the area to evaluate new Marine Corps and Army weapons systems.

In 2007, the U.S. Army created the Combat Support Training Center (CSTC) at Fort Hunter Liggett. Consequently, CSTC almost tripled up the training operations at the base. Army Reserve units took up most of the training hours, although the rest of the Army as well as the Marine, Air Force, and Navy components also participated. Additionally, foreign commands like the Japanese Ground Defense Force also saw action at the base.

Also in 2007, the Army installation’s garrison commander relocated from Camp Parks to Hunter Liggett. In 2018, the command was officially designated as the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett with Camp Parks in Dublin, California, serving as a sub-installation.

26. Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg

State: North Carolina

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 255.5 square miles (163,535 acres)

Personnel: 579,509

Established in 1918 as an artillery training ground, Fort Bragg has played a major role in the nation’s World War II, Cold War, and Middle East War campaigns, preparing soldiers for combat-readiness before their eventual assignments. Notably, during the Cold War, Fort Bragg spearheaded the U.S. military’s unconventional warfare through the creation of the Psychological Warfare Center and the 10th Special Forces. As a result, Fort Bragg directly trained counter-insurgency forces for deployment in Southeast Asia.

Currently, Fort Bragg is the headquarters of the United States Army Special Operations Command, which oversees the U.S. Army 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) and 75th Ranger Regiment. It is also the home of the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps and the following: U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command, and Womack Army Medical Center. Fort Bragg has two airfields—Simmons Army Airfield and Pope Field.

27. Hawthorne Army Depot

Hawthorne Army Depot

State: Nevada

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 230 square miles (147,236 acres)

Personnel: Fewer than 100 active duty

Established in 1930, Hawthorne Army Depot (HWAD) is a U.S. Army ammunition storage depot. Divided into three ammunition storage and production areas, it supports the Joint Forces by issuing, receiving, storing, and demilitarizing ammunition. While the depot is owned by the government, it is run by various independent contractors.

Aside from storing military ammunitions, HWAD also supports desert training of various military units. It is responsible for quality assurance, renovation, ISO-standard container maintenance and repair, as well as range crap processing. Its long history with multiple units involves role redesignations to better meet military needs.

28. Fort Carson

Fort Carson

State: Colorado

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 218.75 square miles (140,000 acres)

Personnel: 32,735

Fort Carson started as Camp Carson in 1942 in the aftermath of Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor. It acquired its current name in 1954 and added the large Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in 1983. Together, these grounds and their facilities are charged with building and maintaining combat-ready soldiers under complex environments before their eventual deployment as members of a Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational team or as a Mission Command Element.

A number of major military commands and units call Fort Carson home. These include the 4th Infantry Division, the 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade, the 5th Infantry Division (Red Devils), the 4th Engineer Battalion, the 10th Special Forces Group, the 10th Combat Support Hospital, the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron of the United States Air Force, the 43rd Sustainment Brigade, the 71st Ordnance Group, the 440th Civil Affairs Battalion (USAR), the 423rd Transportation Company (USAR), the 759th Military Police Battalion, and the Army Field Support Battalion-Fort Carson. As well, Fort Carson hosts units of the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, and the Colorado Army National Guard.

29. Camp Shelby

Camp Shelby

State: Mississippi

Service Branch: Army Guard

Physical Size: 209 square miles (134,000 acres)

Personnel: 1,170

Established in 1917, Camp Shelby is the largest state-owned training site in the U.S.A. It is notable for its many significant contributions during and after the second world war. Its large grounds enable it to support any major independent mobilization by the U.S. Army Forces Command during wartime. The country’s largest reserve component training site is found here, called the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center. The training site can accommodate battalion-level maneuver training, field artillery firing exercises, and other training operations.

While Camp Shelby is notable for supporting the largest reserve components of the U.S. military, it also hosts various active components of the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Army. As well, it houses a mix of State, Department of Defense, and U.S. Forest Service lands in the DeSoto National Forest. Camp Shelby is noted for hosting the highly regarded Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat and the 100th Battalion who saw major action in World War II.

30. Pohakuloa Training Area

Pohakuloa Training Area

State: Hawaii

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 207.8 square miles (133,000 acres)

Personnel: Fewer than 100 active duty

Established in 1955, Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) is the largest United States Department of Defense installation in the Pacific. During World War II, the Marine Corps used the area that would become PTA as live-fire training exercises weeks before deployment to the Saipan and Iwo Jima campaigns.

The PTA is noted for the use of Quonset huts that are still in use today. Support areas include logistic and administrative facilities. A small military airstrip, Bradshaw Army Airfield, is available, along with a fuel yard. There are police and fire departments, a medical clinic, dining facilities, and a theater. A Quonset-hut chapel also exists.

31. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

State: California

Service Branch: Marine Corps

Physical Size: 203 square miles (130,000 acres)

Personnel: 42,000

Established in 1942 and currently one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the U.S., Marine Corps Base Pendleton serves as a major training ground for the Marines and other branches of the U.S. military. Its diverse geography makes it ideal for year-round training, with support services and installations that allow for amphibious and sea-to-shore training operations. Its favorable location and climate are prime factors that allowed it to be declared a permanent installation under the Marine Corps.

Marine Corps Base Pendleton played a crucial role in training U.S. Marines and other forces during World War II. At the height of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the base served as the jumping point of around 200,000 Marines on their way to their Far East combat assignments.

Calling the base home are the Marine Corps, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group, and elements of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Tenant units include the Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, ACU-5, Naval Hospital, the Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity (MCTSSA), Weapons Field Training Battalion, Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook, and the Deployment Processing Command Reserve Support Unit – West.

32. Saylor Creek Air Force Range

Saylor Creek Air Force Range

State: Idaho

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 171.8  square miles (110,000 acres)

Personnel: N/A

Established around 1942, Saylor Creek Air Force Range served as a major combat aircraft training and operations ground for U.S. military aircrews during World War II. One of the most advanced USAF aircraft training grounds, the range draws aircraft from various military commands around the country as well as Allied aircraft from overseas.

Aircraft training at Saylor Creek Air Force Range consists of a wide variety of activities, including bombing practices, aerial gunnery, and low-altitude flight and simulation.

The range provides a mock airfield, villages, and other structures. Ground forces also train here, especially for military operations in urban terrain.

33. Fort Knox

Fort Knox

State: Kentucky

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 170.4 square miles (109,054 acres)

Personnel: 12,483

Established in 1918 as Camp Knox for artillery training and taking its current in 1932 after being turned into a permanent garrison, Fort Knox is a United States Army installation now mainly responsible for ROTC cadets training. The Army Resources Center and the Army Resources Command call Fort Knox home. The famous U.S. Bullion Depository is located adjacent to the base.

For six decades, the U.S. Army Armor School and the U.S. Army Armor Center were based at Fort Knox. The base also served both the Army and Marine Corps in training soldiers on the operation of U.S. military tanks for combat. Units located at the base include the First Army Division East, the V Corps, and the 19th Engineer Battalion, among others.

34. Fort Drum

Fort Drum

State: New York

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 167.6 square miles (107,265 acres)

Personnel: 18,700

Fort Drum was established in 1908 as Pine Camp for the training of regular Army soldiers and militiamen. Before that, the area had a long history of military use, spanning the 19th century and modern times. Renamed Camp Drum in 1951 and Fort Drum in 1974, the base is currently the home of the 10th Mountain Division, U.S. Army Garrison.

After a major expansion during World War II, Fort Drum was used as a training ground by the 5th Armored Division, the 45th Infantry Division, and the 4th Army Division. Additionally, the U.S. military used the base as a prisoner of war camp for captured German and Italian soldiers.

A number of other units are stationed at Fort Drum, including the U.S. Army Material Command, the 91st Military Police Battalion, and the 7th Engineer Battalion.

35. Avon Park Air Force Range

Avon Park Air Force Range

State: Florida

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 165.6 square miles (106,000 acres)

Personnel: N/A

The Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR) is a United States Air Force (USAF) installation primarily used for bombing maneuvers and air-to-ground training of aircrews. The training complex includes the Avon Park Air Force Auxiliary Field, which is also known as MacDill Air Force Base Auxiliary Field. The range comprises the main runway, a control tower, hangar facilities, and an aircraft rescue and firefighting facility. APAFR is notable for dedicating almost half of its area to public recreation.

While APAFR functions as the primary training range for Homestead Air Reserve Base, the Moody, Mac Dill, and Patrick Air Force Bases as well as other squadron and other units from across the country routinely use the range for various training and deployment operations. These units engage in firing various weaponry types, night vision training, and low-level flights.

36. Fort Campbell

Fort Campbell

State: Tennessee

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 164 square miles (105,000 acres)

Personnel: 36,754

Fort Campbell is a United States Army installation charged with providing the highest air and land assault capability in support of U.S. military combat operations anywhere needed. Tasked with accomplishing this mission is the 101st Airborne Division and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Support units include the 5th Special Forces Group and the 52nd Ordnance Group.

The U.S. Army Medical and Dental Activities, Tennessee Valley District Corps of Engineers, and Veterinary Command also call Fort Campbell home.

Fort Campbell started as Camp Campbell, which accommodated an armored division and other support groups in 1943, two years after the site was selected for the base. Coincidentally, the U.S. military completed its official 1941 survey at the same time the Japanese Imperial Fleet started to sail the waters for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Camp Campbell was renamed Fort Campbell in 1950.

37. Vandenberg Air Force Base

Vandenberg Air Force Base

State: California

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 153 square miles (98,000 acres)

Personnel: 6,857

Established in 1941, Vandenberg Air Force Base is a United States Space Force Base primarily tasked with launching spacecraft from the Western Range and performing missile testing. The United States Space Force’s 30th Space Wing serves as the host wing for the base. In addition to its military space launch mission, Vandenberg Air Force Base also performs space launches for civil and commercial space entities, such as NASA.

The base was initially named Camp Cooke, after Major General Phillip St. George Cooke who served the Union in the Mexican War, the Indian Wars, and the Civil War for a military career that spanned almost half a century. Camp Cooke AFB was renamed Vanderberg AFG, after General Hoyt Vanderberg, the second USAF Chief of Staff.

38. Fort Sill

Fort Sill

State: Oklahoma

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 146 square miles (93,440 acres)

Personnel: 20,000

Established in 1869 during the Indian Wars, Fort Sill is a United States Army post recognized for its significant role in every major American conflict. It was initially referred to as Camp Wichita before Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, who staked out the site for the base, later named it in honor of his West Point classmate and friend, Brigadier General Joshua W. Sill. For its long service and colorful history, Fort Sill was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

Calling Fort Still home is the United States Army Field Artillery School as well as the Marine Corps Field Artillery MOS school, United States Army Air Defense Artillery School, the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, and the 75th Field Artillery Brigade. Fort Sill is among the four locations for Army Basic Combat Training.

The birthplace of U.S. combat aviation is found at Fort Sill, at the parade field of the Old Post Quadrangle.

39. Fort Lewis

Fort Lewis

State: Washington

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 136 square miles (87,000 acres)

Personnel: 62,688

Established in 1917, Fort Lewis is one of the largest and most modern military installations in the United States. Named after Meriwether Lewis of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, the site served to train and mobilize thousands of soldiers during World War I. In 1927, an airfield later called McChord Field was added to Fort Lewis. Upon the creation of the U.S. Air Force in 1947, McChord Field separated from Fort Lewis and became McCord Air Force Bases. The two bases ran independently of one another before reuniting in 2010 as Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The U.S. Army’s I Corps holds jurisdiction of most Army units at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In close coordination with active and Reserve component units across the country, I Corps is charged with deploying anywhere in the world up to five divisions or a joint task force on short notice. As the premier military reservation in the northwest, Fort Lewis is notable for being the most requested duty station in the U.S. military.

40. Aberdeen Proving Ground

Aberdeen Proving Ground

State: Maryland

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 121.6 square miles (77,800 acres)

Personnel: 4,263

Established on October 20, 1917, Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) is the oldest active proving ground of the U.S. Army, built just six months after the United States entered World War I. APG was responsible for designing and testing ordnance materials in contemporary industrial and shipping centers.

APG was also commissioned to provide the facilities for the manufacture of chemical warfare agents like psychoactive agents, mustard agent, and sarin, among others, some of which were shipped for use in British and French artillery shells. Collectively called Edgewood Arsenal, these facilities conducted chemical research programs, manufactured chemical agents, and were charged with testing, storage, and disposal of the toxic substances.

As a result of these activities, the Edgewood area of APG was severely contaminated, culminating in its inclusion in the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List for long-term remedial action.

41. Fort A.P. Hill

Fort A.P. Hill

State: Virginia

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 118.7 square miles (76,000 acres)

Personnel: Fewer than 100 active duty

Established in 1941, Fort A.P. Hill is a U.S. military training and maneuver center tasked with providing realistic joint and combined training for the U.S. Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, and other government agencies like federal, state, and local security and law enforcement agencies. The year prior to that, the War Plans Division of the Army General Staff was looking to raise 4 million men in able to capably stage simultaneous operations in the Pacific and European theaters. The installation saw heavy action as a staging area during World War II, serving the II Army Corps, three National Guard divisions, and notably Major General Patton’s Task Force A before its deployment to North Africa to invade French Morocco.

Aside from U.S. military forces, various allied forces also use Fort A.P. Hill to train their military units. The installation played an active role during the Korean War, the various military units using its grounds taking advantage of the site’s state-of-the-art training facilities and support services. Fort A.P. Hill is also notable for hosting numerous national jamborees by the Boy Scouts of America (“Fort A.P. Hill”).

42. Fort Huachuca

Fort Huachuca

State: Arizona

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 118.7 square miles (76,000 acres)

Personnel: 8,674

Established as Camp Huachuca in 1877 and redesignated to its current name in 1882, Fort Huachuca serves as the hub of the U.S. Army communications technology and training. Currently, the U.S. Army Installation Management Command oversees the installation. The major tenant units of the installation are the United States Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and the United States Army Intelligence Center. Also present in the post is Libby Army Airfield, which shares its runway with Sierra Vista Municipal Airport. The airfield was created as an alternate landing location for space shuttles, but it has never been used for that purpose.

Fort Huachuca has a storied role in the history of the United States. Specifically, it was key to the defense of territorial interests of a nascent U.S. during the Indian Wars of the 1870s to 1880s and at a time when Mexican aggression was looming in the South. After the surrender of Geronimo in 1886, General Pershing used Fort Huachuca as his supply base in his doomed effort to pursue Pancho Villa from 1916 to 1917.

The first African American to ever attain the rank of colonel, Charles Young, took command of Fort Huachuca during this time. And from 1913 to 1933, the African American soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, the Buffalo Soldiers, made the base their home.

43. Melrose Air Force Range

Melrose Air Force Range

State: New Mexico

Service Branch: Air Force

Physical Size: 109.4 square miles (70,000 acres)

Personnel: N/A

Established in 1952, Melrose Air Force Range (MAFR) is a U.S. Air Force bombing range primarily used for small arms, air-to-ground, and electronic combat training and exercises. The 27th Special Operations Wing, stationed at Cannon Air Force Base 25 miles west of MAFR, is responsible for the installation.

Under the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), the wing is charged with counter-terrorism, unconventional warfare, direct action, personnel recovery, and psychological operations, among others.

44. Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center

Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center

State: Arkansas

Service Branch: Army Guard

Physical Size: 103 square miles (66,000 acres)

Personnel: N/A

Established as Camp Chaffee in 1941 and redesignated to its current name in 1956, Fort Chaffee is an Army National Guard installation used variously by the U.S. Army as a training ground, prisoner-of-war camp, and as a refugee camp. During World War II, the 6th, 14th, and 16th Armored Divisions trained at Fort Chaffee extensively.

Following the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, the installation was closed. However, the Arkansas National Guard still uses 66,000 acres of the base for training operations.

45. Fort Riley

Fort Riley

State: Kansas

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 101,733 acres

Personnel: 21,500

With a history going back to 1853, Fort Riley is one of the largest and oldest military installations in the U.S. Its establishment coincided with the young nation’s thrust to protect the Oregon and Santa Fe trails, as well as the trading areas within the fort’s immediate vicinity. After serving a key role in the Civil War, the base served as an extensive training ground for cavalry units.

Its long history has seen Fort Riley play crucial roles in such iconic topics and momentous events as the “Bleeding Kansas,” General Custer, the Buffalo Soldiers, World War I and II, the Korean Conflict, the Cold War, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.

Fort Riley is currently the home of the 1st Infantry Division. The 97th Military Police Battalion, the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, and the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, among others, are also stationed at the base.

46. Naval Support Activity Crane

Naval Support Activity Crane

State: Indiana

Service Branch: Navy

Physical Size: 98 square miles (64,000 acres)

Personnel: Fewer than 100 active duty

Established in 1941, Naval Support Activity Crane (NSA Crane) is a U.S. Navy installation originally commissioned to produce, test, and store ordnance under the first supplemental Defense Appropriation Act. The third-largest naval installation in the world, NSA Crane eventually served multiple functions, assuming various development and support operations beyond its single-purpose mission.

Today, NSA Crane leads in fleet maintenance and modernization, undersea warfare systems, surface and airborne electronic warfare, expeditionary warfare systems, night vision systems, radar, strategic systems, small arms, and power systems.

47. Fort Leonard Wood

Fort Leonard Wood

State: Missouri

Service Branch: Army

Physical Size: 96.18 square miles (61,555.2 acres)

Personnel: 22,993

Created in 1940 and designated its current name in 1941, Fort Leonard Wood is a U.S. Army training installation serving multiple roles and functions in service of the country. It was originally planned as a training ground for infantry troops before the Engineer Replacement Training Center took over and turned it into an engineer training post. It served as a prisoner-of-war garrison for captured German and Italian soldiers during World War II, officer training host in 1984, and as the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center in 1999, which was redesignated as the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence in 2009.

Dating back to its origins in World War II as an engineer replacement training post, Fort Leonard Wood has had a training role under Training and Doctrine Command rather than a Forces Command role. Under the combined Maneuver Support Center, Fort Leonard Wood has been home to the Army Engineer, Chemical, and Military Police Schools since 2000.

48. Fort McCoy

Fort McCoy

State: Wisconsin

Service Branch: Army Reserve

Physical Size: 93.75 square miles (60,000 acres)

Personnel: 2,950

Established in 1926 through the merger of Camp Robertson and Camp Emory Upton (both dating back to 1909), Fort McCoy is a major U.S. Army installation that played multiple roles in the history of the nation. Among these roles, the fort served the Civilian Conservation Corps as a supply base during the Great Depression, as a POW and concentration camp during World War II, as Cuban refugees shelter, and as a deployment station for the Middle East operations.

Fort McCoy hosts large-scale exercises multiple times each year, including the Warrior Exercise (platoon-level training) and Combat Support Training Exercise (company-level training). The 84th Training Command, the 88th Regional Support Command, and the Wisconsin National Guard Military Academy call Fort McCoy home.

49. Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility Boardman

Naval Weapons Training Facility Boardman

State: Oregon

Service Branch: Navy

Physical Size: 73.4 square miles (47,000 acres)

Personnel:

Established by the U.S. Army Air Force in 1941 as the Arlington Bombing Range, the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility Boardman is a U.S. military installation primarily used for testing EA-18G Growler aircraft and military drones. Also known as Boardman Bombing Range, the site is under the jurisdiction of NAS Whidbey Island. The installation lies 70 miles south of the Yakima Training Center also listed here.

Frequently used throughout the year, Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility Boardman is also used by the Oregon National Guard units based in Pendleton and Klamath Falls.

50. Camp Gruber

Camp Gruber

State: Oklahoma

Service Branch: Army Guard

Physical Size: 51.6 square miles (33,027 acres)

Personnel: N/A

Camp Gruber is a military training facility for the Oklahoma Army National Guard (OKARNG). Established in 1942 as part of a national effort to prepare for the looming World War II, Camp Gruber originally served as a training ground for infantry, field artillery, and tank destroyers before deployment to the European theatre. It served as a POW camp for German soldiers captured during World War II. Close to 45,000 troops either trained or served at the camp.

The camp is named after Brigadier General Edmund L. Gruber who is recognized as the original composer of the U.S. Field Artillery March, which served as the source for the U.S. Army’s official song, “The Army Goes Along.” Camp Gruber allows limited hunting on its grounds for civilians, a result of an agreement by the OKARNG and the Oklahoma Wildlife Department.

U.S. Military Bases and Installations – Overseas

With the U.S. reeling from the raging Coronavirus pandemic and mounting national debt, it is no wonder that the government is doing all it can to stave off the looming threat of economic collapse.

Among major solutions on the table is the reduction of military spending. The decision would involve closing military bases and installations in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world and reducing the number of active military personnel.

Nevertheless, the U.S. still maintains a gigantic military presence all over the planet. While the reduction of active forces continues, the U.S. still retains a substantial number of military personnel abroad unmatched by any other nation. This is clearly shown by the following chart:

Source: Defense Manpower Data Center; Statista

Meanwhile, the major U.S. military bases and installations overseas are still forces to reckon with, reduction in military spending and a series of reorganizations notwithstanding. In fact, we have picked the top 10 U.S. military bases around the world in 2021 according to their physical size to show how it is so.

1. Thule Air Base, Greenland

Thule Air Base, Greenland

Base Size: 254 square miles (162,560 acres)

Service Branch: Air Force

Thule Air Base is a U.S. Air Force military installation based on the island of Greenland. At 947 miles from the North Pole, it is the USAF’s northernmost base. Lying 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle and home to the 21st Space Wing’s global network of sensors, it provides space surveillance, missile warning, and space control to the U.S. Space Force and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

The 821st Air Base Group also calls the base home, the unit charged with providing base support for the multinational elements of “Team Thule.” Among numerous capabilities, the base is capable of designing, detecting, and tracking ICBMs targeting North America, thanks to a Ballistic Early Warning System operated by the 12th Space Warning Squadron stationed at the base.

2. Camp Fuji, Japan

Camp Fuji, Japan

Base Size: 53 square miles (34,000 acres)

Service Branch: Marine Corps

Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji is a U.S. Marine Corps installation whose ranges and maneuver areas serve as premier training venues for U.S. forces and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). It is one of several camps of the Marine Corps Base Camp Butler complex.

Occupying areas around the base of Mount Fuji, Japan, CATC Camp Fuji was occupied by the U.S. Army after Japan surrendered at the end of World War II. The station supports the core of the USMC battle engagement doctrine, the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF). It combines both air and ground elements to achieve maximum results.

3. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo Bay

Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Guantanamo Bay

Base Size: 45 square miles (28,664 acres)

Service Branch: Navy

Established in 1903 at the southeastern end of Cuba, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay or NSGB (also called GTMO or Gitmo) is the oldest overseas U.S. Naval Base. Since 2002, the naval base has contained a military prison for alleged unlawful combatants captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places during the War on Terror.

NGSB hosts the Joint Task Force (JTF) Guantanamo—consisting of the JTF Headquarters, Joint Detention Group, Joint Intelligence Group, Joint Medical Group, and the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security Detachment Guantanamo Bay—as well as the Marine Corps Security Force Company, Navy Security Forces, and units of the Naval Supply, among others.

4. Camp Hansen, Japan

Camp Hansen, Japan

Base Size: 19.8 square miles (12,672 acres)

Service Branch: Marine Corps

Established in 1965 in the town of Kin, Okinawa, Japan, Camp Hansen is a training area and confinement facility jointly used by the Marine Corps Base Camp Butler and the JGSDF. While not a physical camp in itself, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler comprises all Marine Corps installations on Okinawa.

Camp Hansen provides a number of firing ranges and other areas for live-fire training. The confinement facility serves Far East U.S. military units for short-term sentences.

5. Area C, Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt

Area C-HFR, Australia

Base Size: 14.8 square miles (9,463 acres)

Service Branch: Navy

Part of Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt and the third of its three major areas (Areas A and B being the others), Area C houses the main receiver site of the communication station. The facility includes the Receiver/Administration Building, power plant, water treatment plant, and water storage tank.

The main building houses high-frequency receivers in the 2 to 30 Mhz band and one VLF receiver. These provide the necessary reception terminations for all of the point-to-point Navy tactical and merchant ship circuits.

A 300-foot microwave tower provides a link to the Communications Center. Aside from providing power to Area C, the power plant also provides the basic power for an Australian PMG (Post Master General) receiver site located in the south.

6. Camp Gonsalves, Japan

Camp Gonsalves, Japan

Base Size: 14.5 square miles (9,300 acres)

Service Branch: Marine Corps

Located in northern Okinawa and established in 1958 as a counter guerilla school in the early years of the Vietnam War, Camp Gonsalves is a USMC training area that provided expert instruction to prepare Marine and Joint Forces for the rigors of combat in a dense jungle environment. Originally known as the Northern Training Area before it was renamed Camp Gonsalves in 1986, the station features the rugged terrain and heavily canopied forest U.S. combatants find in their Southeast Asian operations.

The Jungle Warfare Training Center offers Jungle Skills Course, Jungle Leaders Course, and Jungle Endurance Course. The station also allows units to use the grounds and facilities independently. To date, it has hosted many such training exercises, including raids, Realistic Urban Terrain Exercises, SPIE Rigging, and reconnaissance and surveillance, among others.

7. Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, Diego Garcia

Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, Diego Garcia

Base Size: 10.5 square miles (6,720 acres)

Service Branch: Navy

Built in 1971, Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia is a United States Navy supply and prepositioning facility under a lease agreement with the British Ministry of Defence. It is located on the atoll Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The facility saw heavy use during the Gulf and Iraq Wars, delivering a Marine Expeditionary Brigade and bombing missions through ships under the COMPSRON 2 (Commander, Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron 2) detailed at the base.

The Indian Ocean station hosts the Maritime Prepositioning Squadron Two, the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Far East Detachment Diego Garcia, and the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Detachment, among others.

8. Camp Humphreys, South Korea

Camp Humphreys, South Korea

Base Size: 5.4 square miles (3,454 acres)

Service Branch: Army

Built as Pyeongtaek Airfield by the Japanese in 1919, used by the U.S. Marine Group during the Korean War (1950-1953), and subsequently designated its current name in 1962, Camp Humphreys is a U.S. Army garrison near Anjeong-ri, South Korea. Also known as U.S. Army Garrison-Humphreys, the station serves as home to the busiest airfield in Asia, the Desiderio Army Airfield.

Aside from the airfield, the installation also hosts numerous U.S. Army direct support, transportation, and tactical units. A 2004 agreement between the U.S. and South Korea transformed Camp Humphreys into the largest U.S. Army garrison in Asia.

9. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

Base Size: 2 square miles (1,300 acres)

Service Branch: Marine Corps

Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni is a United States Marine Corps air station located in the city of Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. The country previously used the area as a naval air station, training area, and defense base. Just a day before World War II ended, American B-29s bombed the station. Various military forces from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand occupied the base before Americans occupied it as a launching point for aircraft on missions to the Korean War. It officially became a U.S. military base in 1952.

MCAS Iwakuni previously housed nuclear weapons until they were removed as part of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the U.S.A. It is currently used by the MCAS for air patrol and pilot training, part of the U.S. obligations to protect Japan.

10. U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan

Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan

Base Size: 2 square miles (1,285 acres)

Service Branch: Navy

Established in 1946, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo is a United States Navy base on the island of Kyūshū in Sasebo, Japan. The station serves as home to the Navy’s only forward-deployed Amphibious Ready Group anchored by USS America. It also hosts the U.S. Seventh Fleet ships as well as other forward-deployed ships. These units allow the U.S. to carry out its defense treaty with Japan.

Since 1883, Japan has used Sasebo as the nucleus of a base for the Imperial Japanese Navy. In 1905, Commander Tōgō famously led the Japanese Navy to victory in the Battle of Tsushima over the Russian Baltic Fleet. During the Korean War, the United States used the station as the springboard for the United Nations and U.S. forces.

Major U.S. Military Bases and Installations Are Not Going Away Anytime Soon

Despite sharp criticisms of the continuing operations of the vast U.S. military-industrial complex domestic and abroad, there is no reason to expect that the U.S. will reduce them to a size that would be detrimental to its overall global economic and political interest. Historically, American power resides at the intersection of economic and national security. While the old specters of Soviet Russia and communism are long gone, the fast emergence of China as a global economic and military power will hold any call for the substantial reduction of American military influence at bay.

Russia, meanwhile, remains an enigmatic power whose global intentions and actions continue to arouse suspicion and sharp reaction from the power corridors at Washington. Finally, countries like North Korea, Iran, and the shifting military and political dynamics at play in the Middle East ensure that the global role of the U.S. military will not really diminish soon.

In the U.S., it means, among other things, finding a way to resolve the massive problem of student debt without cutting deeply into the budget allocated for militarily securing the global interests of the country.

Another national dilemma, the rising tide of student crime, will have to bide its time.

 

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  4. Frederick, B., Watts, S. Lane, M., Doll, A., Rhoades, A. L., & Smith, M. L. (2020). Understanding the Deterrent Impact of U.S. Overseas Forces. RAND Corporation
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