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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

George H. W. Bush Administration (1989-1992)

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

Less than a year after taking office, President George H.W. Bush sends more than 20,000 troops to Panama to capture Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who is wanted in the U.S. on drug charges. Afterward, the Bush administration witnesses major geopolitical changes with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of communist control over much of Eastern Europe and the break-up of the USSR. As a result, the U.S. dramatically decreases troop deployments to Europe from approximately 350,000 at the end of Reagan's second term to approximately 200,000 by then end of Bush's term. At the same time, troop numbers in East Asia and the Pacific fall from approximately 135,00 in 1988 to about 95,000 by 1992. This is due, in part, to a concentration of troops in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia for the American-lead Gulf War in 1991, when more 70,000 U.S. troops are in the region (30,000 in Saudi Arabia and almost 40,000 "afloat") to participate in repelling Iraq's invasion of neighboring Kuwait. By the end of Bush's term in the fall of 1992, troop deployment levels in the Middle East will return to just above what they were in 1989.


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.

Including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany**, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy*, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain*, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey*, USSR, United Kingdom*, Vatican City, Yugoslavia, and others afloat*.

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, China, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan* (approx. 45,000), South Korea* (approx. 40,000), Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and others afloat.

North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia-
Including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Diego Garcia, Egypt, India, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, 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, 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.

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posted oct. 26, 2004

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