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.
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