How Much Land Does the United States Military Control in Each State?

How Much Land does the U.S. Military Own in Each State?

Every year, the United States spends an astonishing $778 billion on its military, a figure that is unmatched by any other country in the world.

The real estate portfolio of the U.S. military is truly impressive, as it includes buildings valued at a staggering $749 billion and encompasses a land area of 26.9 million acres. It is worth noting that almost 98% of this land is situated within the United States and is either owned, leased or operated by the military.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has provided data for a fascinating visual that depicts the extent of land ownership, leasing, and operations by the U.S. military across different states.

The Department of Defense defines military sites as specific geographic locations that have land parcels or facilities assigned to them, and this map provides a visual representation of the percentage of a state comprised by these sites. It’s important to note that the DoD either leases, owns, or has jurisdiction over the geographical location of these sites.

What is Military Land Used For?

The military falls under the larger government umbrella known as the DoD, which operates on more than 26 million acres of land within the United States.

There are four primary branches that make up the U.S. military. To elaborate, each branch serves a unique purpose and has its own set of responsibilities.

    • Army
    • Navy
    • Air Force
    • Marine Corps

The Army remains the largest branch of the military, with most of the land dedicated to its operations. In addition, there are other branches of the military, such as the Space Force, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard, each with their own areas of expertise and responsibilities.

Military bases serve various purposes, including soldier training, weapons and equipment testing, research, and active operations. Interestingly, a significant portion of the space is allocated for family housing.

One of the most well-known U.S. Army bases, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, houses a whopping 260,000 individuals, including the families of soldiers. This installation is so vast that it is practically a city in itself. With a total of 53,700 troops, which is almost 10% of the Army, and over 14,000 civilian employees, Fort Bragg is the largest U.S. Army base.

Which States Have the Biggest Military Presence?

The top 10 sites combined cover a staggering 13,927,470 acres, surpassing the size of 10 individual states, such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Hawaii.

Let’s take a closer look at the military’s sites across every state and the amount of land they occupy in each state.

State Site (Acres) Share of State’s Total Land
Hawaii 228,639 5.6%
Nevada 3,541,949 5.0%
New Mexico 3,889,638 5.0%
Arizona 3,042,028 4.2%
District of Columbia 1,525 3.9%
California 3,655,180 3.7%
Utah 1,883,234 3.6%
Washington 941,146 2.2%
Florida 690,994 2.0%
Maryland 115,158 1.9%
Georgia 589,060 1.6%
New Jersey 71,822 1.5%
North Carolina 411,152 1.3%
Virginia 289,815 1.2%
Texas 1,690,725 1.0%
Louisiana 272,357 1.0%
Massachusetts 39,107 0.8%
Colorado 476,056 0.7%
Kentucky 180,852 0.7%
Indiana 160,103 0.7%
Mississippi 176,745 0.6%
South Carolina 109,938 0.6%
Alaska 2,057,351 0.6%
Tennessee 147,839 0.6%
Alabama 166,800 0.5%
Oklahoma 223,632 0.5%
New York 152,611 0.5%
Wisconsin 155,500 0.5%
Rhode Island 2,280 0.3%
Delaware 4,170 0.3%
Kansas 140,973 0.3%
Arkansas 88,072 0.3%
Idaho 136,350 0.3%
Oregon 140,294 0.2%
Pennsylvania 61,323 0.2%
Missouri 88,240 0.2%
Vermont 1,1520 0.2%
Ohio 35,150 0.1%
Maine 18,742 0.1%
Illinois 31,165 0.1%
North Dakota 31,937 0.1%
Iowa 24,506 0.1%
Montana 56,998 0.1%
Connecticut 1,753 0.1%
New Hampshire 3,225 0.1%
Wyoming 31,984 0.1%
Nebraska 21,272 0.04%
Michigan 14,004 0.04%
West Virginia 3,084 0.02%
South Dakota 9,681 0.02%
Minnesota 2,736 0.01%

The military owns a significant portion of Hawaii, amounting to 5.6% of the state’s land. The Pearl Harbor, a historic site located on the island of Oahu, serves as an active base for both the Navy and the Air Force.

Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, has around 18 separate locations that are owned or operated by the military, comprising only 3.9% of the small district.

The majority of the land owned by the Department of Defense is situated in the southwestern region of the United States. This strategic location provides a significant advantage as it allows for the testing of massively destructive weapons in large, uninhabited areas without any risk of harm to civilians. The White Sands Missile Range, the largest military site in the country, was where the first atomic bomb was detonated in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico.

The Army branch holds almost all of the largest military sites and boasts of having over 415,000 active personnel. Let’s take a closer look at the U.S. military’s population breakdown:

    • Active Duty:
      • Army: 415,967
      • Navy: 304,118
      • Marine Corps: 146,728
      • Air Force (also includes Space Force): 273,983
      • Coast Guard: 38,829
    • Reserves: 438,645
    • Army: 415,967
    • Navy: 304,118
    • Marine Corps: 146,728
    • Air Force (also includes Space Force): 273,983
    • Coast Guard: 38,829

The military plays a vital role in providing employment opportunities across the United States. With approximately 2.9 million jobs, both domestically and internationally, the Department of Defense offers a range of positions, from active-duty troops to civilian roles within the military. As an illustration, in California alone, the military provides over 62,000 civilian jobs, demonstrating the significant impact of the armed forces on the job market.

U.S. Military Presence Beyond its Borders

The military possesses an enormous amount of land globally, comprising of approximately 26.9 million acres that they either own or lease. The Army has dominion over the largest portion of the Department of Defense’s land, amounting to 51%, while the Air Force controls 32%.

The Department of Defense owns military land in a total of 45 foreign countries and 8 territories outside the United States. The majority of foreign bases owned by the U.S. are located in the following areas:

    • šŸ‡©šŸ‡Ŗ Germany: 194 sites
    • šŸ‡ÆšŸ‡µ Japan: 121 sites
    • šŸ‡°šŸ‡· South Korea: 83 sites

The United States has a limited number of permanent forces in areas that are experiencing ongoing conflicts. For instance, there are currently 23 active duty soldiers stationed in Ukraine during regular times, while there are 41 active duty U.S. troops stationed in Russia. Nonetheless, President Joe Biden has recently disclosed his plans to augment the military presence of the U.S. across Europe due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

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