The United States of America (US) has more overseas military bases than any other nation, a legacy of World War II, with nearly 800 spread through more than 70 countries.
The US has approximately 150,000 troops stationed abroad, with:
- 49,000 in Japan;
- 28,000 in South Korea; and
- 38,000 in Germany.
The total cost to the US Government, excluding war zones, is estimated to be up to $100 billion a year.
It has been suggested that Americans are “completely unaware” of these bases for the most part (Vine, 2015).
There is also a perception by some in the military that these bases do not cost much to maintain, however, according to a report by the RAND Corporation (2013) keeping military personnel overseas, rather than within the US, costs between $10,000 and $40,000 extra for each person involved (e.g. allowances and movement costs).
In terms of training costs, the US may end up spending more abroad than domestically. For example, the US Army spent $235 million domestically versus $327.5 million in the European Command (EUCOM), and $223.5 million in the Pacific Command (PACOM) (RAND, 2013).
Military personnel may also receive allowances ranging from $2,700 to $39,600 per year (subject to location and service branch).
Lostumbo, M.J., McNerney, M.J>, Peltz, E., Eaton, D., Frelinger, D.R., Greenfield, V.A., Halliday, J., Mills, P., Nardulli, B.R., Pettyjohn, S.L., Sollinger, J.M. & Worman, S.M. (2013) Overseas Basing of U.S. Military Forces: An Assessment of Relative Costs. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR200/RR201/RAND_RR201.pdf. [Accessed: 23 November, 2016].
Vine, D. (2015) Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World. (American Empire Project). PLACE: Metropolitan Books.