How Much Land does the U.S. Military Own in Each State?
The United States spends an unparalleled amount of money on its military—about $778 billion each year to be precise.
Additionally, the U.S. military also owns, leases, or operates an impressive real estate portfolio with buildings valued at $749 billion and a land area of 26.9 million acres, of which around 98% is located within the United States.
This visual, using data from the Department of Defense (DoD) reveals how much of each state the U.S. military owns, leases, or operates on.
This map visualizes the share of a state comprised by military sites, which the Department of Defense defines as a specific geographic location that has individual land parcels or facilities assigned to it. The geographical location is leased to, owned by, or otherwise under the jurisdiction of the DoD.
What is Military Land Used For?
The DoD is the larger government umbrella under which the military falls and the department operates on over 26 million acres of land stateside.
To further break it down the U.S. military is divided into four main branches:
- Air Force
- Marine Corps
There is also the Space Force, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard. However, most of the land is dedicated to the Army, which is the military’s largest branch.
Military bases are used for training and housing soldiers, testing weapons and equipment, conducting research, and running active operations, among other things. A large majority of the square footage is actually designated for family housing.
For example, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is one of the most famous U.S. Army bases, is home to more than 260,000 people including the families of soldiers. The base, which is virtually its own city, is the largest U.S. Army installation with 53,700 troops—nearly 10% of the Army—and over 14,000 civilian employees.
Which States Have the Biggest Military Presence?
Looking at the largest total sites, the top 10 combined cover an astonishing 13,927,470 acres, larger than 10 individual states including New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Hawaii.
Here’s a look at the size of the military’s sites in each state and how much of that state’s land the sites take up:
|State||Site (Acres)||Share of State's Total Land|
|District of Columbia||1,525||3.9%|
In Hawaii, 5.6% of the state belongs to the military. The historic Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu is still an active base, housing both the Navy and the Air Force.
In the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., 3.9% of the small district is owned or operated on by the military—there are approximately 18 independent sites in the city.
Most of the DoD’s land is in the southwestern United States. One major benefit is that there are areas large enough in these states to test hugely destructive weapons without harming anyone. The atomic bomb was first detonated in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico at the White Sands Missile Range, the biggest military site in the country.
- 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
Beyond just the presence of soldiers across the states, the military also represents a lot of jobs. In total, both on U.S. soil and globally the DoD provides nearly 2.9 million jobs from active duty troops to civilian positions within the military. In California, for example, the military provides over 62,000 civilian jobs.
U.S. Military Presence Beyond its Borders
When it comes to all the land that the military both owns and leases globally, the figure is huge, coming out to 26.9 million acres. The Army controls 51% of the DoD’s land, followed by the Air Force’s 32%.
Military land owned by the DoD can be found outside the U.S. in 8 territories and 45 foreign countries. Here’s a breakdown of where the majority of the U.S.’ foreign bases are:
- 🇩🇪 Germany: 194 sites
- 🇯🇵 Japan: 121 sites
- 🇰🇷 South Korea: 83 sites
In places where there are ongoing conflicts, the U.S. has a few permanent forces. In regular times in Ukraine, there are 23 active duty soldiers permanently stationed. In Russia there are 41 active duty U.S. troops. However, President Joe Biden has recently announced that he will increase the U.S.’ military presence across Europe because of the war in Ukraine.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point since Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point in six years.
Gallup began its survey on media trust in 1972, repeating it in 1974 and 1976. After a long period, the public opinion firm restarted the polls in 1997 and has asked Americans about their confidence level in the mass media—newspapers, TV, and radio—almost every year since then.
The above graphic illustrates Gallup’s latest poll results, conducted in September 2023.
Americans’ Trust in Mass Media, 1972-2023
Americans’ confidence in the mass media has sharply declined over the last few decades.
|Trust in the mass media||% Great deal/Fair amount||% Not very much||% None at all|
In 2016, the number of respondents trusting media outlets fell below the tally of those who didn’t trust the media at all. This is the first time that has happened in the poll’s history.
That year was marked by sharp criticism of the media from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
In 2017, the use of the term ‘fake news’ rose by 365% on social media, and the term was named the word of the year by dictionary publisher Collins.
The Lack of Faith in Institutions and Social Media
Although there’s no single reason to explain the decline of trust in the traditional media, some studies point to potential drivers.
According to Michael Schudson, a sociologist and historian of the news media and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, in the 1970s, faith in institutions like the White House or Congress began to decline, consequently impacting confidence in the media.
“That may have been a necessary corrective to a sense of complacency that had been creeping in—among the public and the news media—that allowed perhaps too much trust: we accepted President Eisenhower’s lies about the U-2 spy plane, President Kennedy’s lies about the ‘missile gap,’ President Johnson’s lies about the war in Vietnam, President Nixon’s lies about Watergate,”
Michael Schudson – Columbia Journalism School
More recently, the internet and social media have significantly changed how people consume media. The rise of platforms such as X/Twitter and Facebook have also disrupted the traditional media status quo.
Partisans’ Trust in Mass Media
Historically, Democrats have expressed more confidence in the media than Republicans.
Democrats’ trust, however, has fallen 12 points over the past year to 58%, compared with 11% among Republicans and 29% among independents.
According to Gallup, Republicans’ low confidence in the media has little room to worsen, but Democrat confidence could still deteriorate and bring the overall national reading down further.
The poll also shows that young Democrats have less confidence in the media than older Democrats, while Republicans are less varied in their views by age group.
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