rumsfeld's war [home]
home
paths to power
interviews
discussion


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

The William J. Clinton Administration (1993-1996)

Note: Except where noted, troop deployments for each region are calculated as the mean of all years in a presidential administration.

Just before leaving office, President Bush authorizes the deployment of 25,000 American soldiers to Somalia to aid in famine relief efforts there. After President Clinton is inaugurated, he reduces that number to 5,000 before completely withdrawing troops after the death of 18 U.S. Rangers . Meanwhile, another 25,000 U.S. troops head to Haiti to put an end to the violence that has been building there since the 1991 coup that removed President Aristide from office. However, in 1994 the U.S. decides to send only a token number of forces to participate in peacekeeping efforts in Rwanda against the genocide that claims the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandans in 100 days . Later in 1995, American forces participate in a NATO-lead attack on Bosnian Serbs. Roughly 19,000 U.S. forces are reported as being in the three former Yugoslavian countries from Sept. 1995 to Sept. 1996. Despite interventions in three different theaters, the first Clinton administration continues its plan for military downsizing and reduces Reagan's military build-up by about 30 percent, from roughly 2,140,000 troops in 1988 to 1,470,000 by 1996.

Boundaries

U.S. and territories-
Including the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Marshall Islands, Midway Islands, Palau, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Wake Island, and others afloat.

Europe-
Including Armenia, Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany**, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy*, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain*, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey*, Turkmenistan, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom*, Uzbekistan, Vatican City, and others afloat*.
*Denotes major U.S. military presence (e.g. approximately 5,000 to 30,000 troops)
** German troop levels have been maintained at 250,000 from 1969 to present.

East Asia and Pacific-
Including Australia, Burma, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan* (approx. 45,000), South Korea* (approx. 40,000), Laos, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, and others afloat.

North Africa, Near East, South Asia-
Including Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Diego Garcia, Egypt, India, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, Yemen, and others afloat.

Sub- Saharan Africa-
Including Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, St. Helena, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and others afloat.

Western Hemisphere-
Including Antigua, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba (Guantanamo), Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela, and others afloat.

Total Worldwide-
Active-duty U.S. military personnel, in the U.S. or abroad.

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.

home · introduction ·· paths to power · interviews · washington post coverage
timeline: rumsfeld's life & times · timeline: the military's struggles & evolution · join the discussion
maps · analysis · producer's chat · press reaction · tapes & transcripts · credits · privacy policy
FRONTLINE home · wgbh · pbsi

posted oct. 26, 2004

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
background photo copyright © corbis
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

USA East Asia/Pacific Western Hemisphere Western Hemisphere US Europe Europe North Africa, Mideast South Africa
SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

Prison StateApril 29th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS