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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

Ronald R. Reagan Administration (1985-1988)

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

In 1984, the U.S. renews diplomatic relations with Iraq, and as a result, eight American troops are stationed there for the first time since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War . On the other side of world, the U.S. increases troop deployments to its military bases in the Philippines every year during Reagan's presidency. The military hopes to establish a counterweight to the nearby Soviet naval base because it fears a communist-backed coup of the unpopular American-supported Marcos regime. There are more than 16,000 American troops present in the Philippines in 1986, when Marcos is peacefully voted out of office and sent into exile . Meanwhile, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian troop levels for the Reagan years peak at 20,000 in 1987 - the same year that the U.S. conducts air strikes against Libya, the North African nation suspected of terrorist attacks . Total worldwide troop deployments continue to rise during the second Reagan administration, reaching a post-Vietnam high of 2,174,217 troops in 1987.


U.S. and territories-
Including the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii; American Samoa; Guam; Johnston Atoll; Midway Islands; Puerto Rico; Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; U.S. Virgin Islands; Wake Island, and others afloat.)

Western Europe-
Including Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany (Federal Republic and West Berlin)*, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy*, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain*, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey*, United Kingdom*, Vatican City, and others afloat*.
*Denotes major U.S. military presence (e.g. approximately 5,000 to 25,000 troops)

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

Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia-
Including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Diego Garcia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, India, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Helena, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and others afloat.

Western Hemisphere-
Including Antigua, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, 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.

USSR and Eastern Europe-
Including Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Germany (Democratic Republic-GDR), Hungary, Poland, Romania, USSR (Soviet Union), Yugoslavia, 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.

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posted oct. 26, 2004

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