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US Military Deployment 1969 to the Present
Each year since 1950, the U.S. Department of Defense has provided on its web site detailed information about the deployment of American troops around the world. A study of this data shows how the U.S. military's size and scope has changed over the past 35 years: from its peak in 1969 as a conscripted force of 2.4 million troops, heavily dispersed around the globe, to today's all-volunteer force of only 1.4 million, concentrated in a handful of countries.

Broken down by administration, this data reveals how different administrations have approached geopolitical conflict. For instance, almost 750,000 U.S. troops were present in the East Asia and Pacific theater at the height of the Vietnam War, but when America declared war on Iraq twenty years later, only about 70,000 troops were deployed. When the U.S. participated in the NATO-lead war in Kosovo in 1999, air strikes were substituted for large numbers of ground forces and no more than 13,500 troops were in the immediate area-that is a fraction of the more than 200,000 troops deployed in the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

1969-1974 1975-1976 1977-1980 1981-1984

1985-1988 1989-1992 1993-1996 1997-2000 2001-2004

Richard M. Nixon Administration (1969-1974)

Note: Except where noted, troop deployments for each region are calculated as the mean of all years included in the presidential administration. Annual troop deployment figures are given for regions where their numbers fluctuated widely. Troop deployments for the 1974 fiscal year are included in the Nixon administration average because the Defense Department's fiscal year is from Sept. to Sept., and Nixon remained in office until August of 1974.

When Nixon becomes president in 1969, America's involvement in Vietnam is at its peak: Over 750,000 troops are stationed in East Asia and the Pacific, and more than 500,000 of them are in South Vietnam. The next six years witness America's disengagement from the region and a dramatic decrease in U.S. military presence worldwide. When Nixon leaves office in 1974, there are only about 150 troops in South Vietnam and only about 140,000 in all of East Asia and the Pacific (mostly as part of the America's routine presence in Japan, South Korea and Thailand). Also during this time, the U.S. military loses over 1 million active-duty servicemen (approximately one-third of its total personnel). This is due in large part to the end of the draft in 1973 and the return to an all-volunteer military; but also because morale is low after the disaster in Vietnam, and the U.S. is no longer willing to support a large American military presence around the world. The one exception is in the Middle East, where from 1969 to 1974 the U.S. increases its presence by 50 percent (from 983 to 1,460 troops) .

Boundaries

U.S. and territories-
Including the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Project Deep Freeze (Antarctica), Guantanamo Naval Base (Cuba), Guam, Johnston Island, Midway Island, Panama Canal, Zone, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Wake Island, and others afloat.

Western Europe-
Including Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany*, Greece, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy*, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain*, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey*, Tunisia, United Kingdom*, and Yugoslavia.
*Denotes major U.S. military presence (e.g. more than 5,000 troops)

Africa, the Middle East and South Asia-
Including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Malagasy, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Egypt, and Zaire.

East Asia and the Pacific-
Including Australia, Burma, Cambodia, Canton Island, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, the Philippines, Malaya, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Ryukyu Islands, Singapore, South Korea, South Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, and others afloat.

Western Hemisphere-
Including Antigua, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba. Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Helena, Uruguay, Venezuela.

USSR and Eastern Europe-
Including Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union.

A Note about the Data:
The Defense Department reports troop deployments at the end of each fiscal year on Sept. 30th. In the following maps, troop deployments are listed as the average, by region, for the four years of each presidential administration. The exceptions to this rule are the maps representing the Nixon and Ford administrations. Where a region's average does not adequately reflect the troop deployments over an entire administration (such as the average for East Asia and the Pacific during the Nixon administration), annual troop levels are listed instead. Whenever possible, the caption at the bottom of each map has tried to explain fluctuations in data that might skew the averages. Finally, when viewing these maps, it is important to keep in mind that the Defense Department regularly changes the names of it's geographical regions and the countries included in them. A color-coded system is used for national makeup of each region to help clarify this.

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posted oct. 26, 2004

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