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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 W. Bush Administration (2001-2004)

Note: Except where noted, troop deployments for each region are calculated as the mean of all years in a presidential administration. The average for North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia does not include troops deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom; the Department of Defense has not made that data available.

On October 7, 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the U.S. begins a bombing campaign that topples the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Though the U.S. Defense Department has not made available information about troop deployments in Afghanistan, defense estimates available elsewhere put the current number of U.S. troops in the area at 18,000. Then on March 19, 2003, the U.S. invades Iraq with a force of approximately 200,000 troops. Baghdad and the Ba'ath regime fall three weeks later, and President Bush declares major hostilities over May 1, 2003, though the U.S. continues to maintain more than 200,000 in the area. In other parts of the world, U.S. military deployments have dramatically changed since George W. Bush took office -- a result of America's War on Terror and military transformation. Troop levels in East Asia and Pacific, for instance, have risen steadily as America has come to identify North Korea as a major nuclear threat: from about 92,000 in 2001 to almost 100,000 in 2003. And in other parts of the world, troop levels have reached a recent low, as military resources are stretched to the limit by fighting wars on two fronts. The U.S. military presence in the Western Hemisphere, for instance, has fallen from approximately 14,000 troops in 2001 to just 2,000 troops in 2004.


U.S. and territories
Including the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Midway Islands, Palau, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and others afloat.

Including 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, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain*, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey*, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, United Kingdom*, 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, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, and others afloat.

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

Sub- Saharan Africa-
Including Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, St. Helena, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, 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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