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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

Jimmy Carter Administration (1977-1980)

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

During the Carter administration, American foreign policy focuses on the Middle East, the region deemed the most serious threat to regional stability and the national interests of the United States. In 1979, President Carter personally negotiates a peace between Egypt and Israel over their long-standing border disputes. Meanwhile, Russia invades Afghanistan, protestors burn the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, and armed militants overthrow the American-backed Shah in Iran, taking more than 100 American diplomats hostage . As a result, the U.S. withdraws most of its ground troops from the region, particularly from Iran, where it had previously maintained a large military presence (between 600 and 1,000 troops per year). The U.S. replaces these forces with more than 18,000 troops stationed in the surrounding waters -- up from only 1,000 troops a few years before. On Jan. 1, 1979, the U.S. re-establishes diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and stations 10 U.S. troops there for the first time since 1947 . As part of its negotiations with China, the U.S. permanently withdraws all 700 of its troops from Taiwan.


U.S. and territories -
Including the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Marshall Islands, Midway Islands, 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 (Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlin)*, Greece, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy*, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain*, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey*, United Kingdom*, and others afloat.
*Denotes major U.S. military presence (e.g. approximately 5,000 to 20,000 troops)

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

Africa, Near East, South Asia-
Including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cameroon, Chad, Diego Garcia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, India, Iran, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Helena, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Yemen, Zaire, and others afloat.

Western Hemisphere
Including Antigua, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba (Guantanamo), Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Turks Island, Uruguay, Venezuela, and others afloat.

USSR and Eastern Europe
Including Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Germany (German Democratic Republic and East Berlin), Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia.

Total Worldwide-
Including 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.

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posted oct. 26, 2004

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