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U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country

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Chart: U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country

U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country

200k active troops overseas in 177 countries

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

There was no shortage of cuts proposed in Trump’s budget for 2018, which was released earlier this week.

However, one of the few departments that did not receive a haircut was the Department of Defense. If the proposed budget ultimately passes in Congress, the DoD would be allocated an extra $54 billion in federal funding – a 10% increase that would be one of the largest one-year defense budget increases in American History.

To put the proposed increase in context, the United States already spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined. Meanwhile, the additional $54 billion is about the size of the United Kingdom’s entire defense budget.

CountryMilitary Spending (2015)Share
United States$596 billion35.8%
China$215 billion12.9%
Saudi Arabia$87 billion5.2%
Russia$66 billion4.0%
United Kingdom$55 billion3.3%
India$51 billion3.1%
France$51 billion3.1%
Japan$41 billion2.5%
Germany$39 billion2.4%
South Korea$36 billion2.2%
Others$427 billion25.6%

“Be All You Can Be”

With over half of all U.S. discretionary spending being put towards the military each year, the U.S. is able to have extensive operations both at home and abroad. Our chart for this week breaks down military personnel based on the latest numbers released by the DoD on February 27, 2017.

In total, excluding civilian support staff, there are about 2.1 million troops. Of those, 1.3 million are on active duty, while about 800,000 are in reserve or part of the National Guard.

On a domestic basis, there are about 1.1 million active troops stationed in the United States, and here’s how they are grouped based on branch of service:

Military BranchActive Domestic PersonnelAs a Percentage
Army394,236
35%
Navy283,499
25%
Marine Corps149,992
13%
Air Force249,738
22%
Coast Guard38,659
3%
Total1,116,124
100%

Internationally, there are just under 200,000 troops that are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world.

Here are the top 20 countries they are stationed in, as well as an “Other” category that represents the rest:

RankCountry / TerritoryU.S. Troops
#1Japan39,345
#2Germany34,805
#3South Korea23,468
#4Italy12,102
#5Afghanistan9,294
#6United Kingdom8,479
#7Kuwait6,296
#8Iraq5,540
#9Bahrain5,504
#10Guam3,831
#11Spain3,256
#12Qatar2,976
#13Turkey2,234
#14Djibouti1,961
#15Jordan1,759
#16United Arab Emirates1,079
#17Belgium842
#18Cuba806
#19Romania667
#20Greece407
Other / Unknown34,834
Total199,485

In 2015, Politico estimated that there are 800 U.S. bases abroad, and that it costs up to $100 billion annually to maintain this international presence.

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War

Visualized: Top 15 Global Tank Fleets

Heavily armed and armored, the modern tank is a versatile and mobile weapons platform, and a critical piece of contemporary warfare. 

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Teaser image for an dot matrix chart of the top 15 global tank fleets, broken down by main battle tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and storage, showing that the U.S. is number one, by a wide margin.

The Top 15 Global Tank Fleets

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Heavily armed and armored, the modern tank is a versatile and mobile weapons platform, and a critical piece of contemporary warfare.

This visualization shows the top 15 global tank fleets, using data from the 2024 Military Balance report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Let’s take an in-depth look at the top three fleets:

1. United States

As the world’s pre-eminent military power, it’s perhaps no surprise that the United States also has the largest tank fleet, by a wide margin.

In total, they have just over 45,000 armored fighting vehicles in operation, along with 2,640 main battle tanks (MBTs), and 12,800 vehicles in storage, of which 2,000 are main battle tanks.

CategoryVehiclesGlobal rank
Main battle tanks2,6404
Armored reconnaissance1,7451
Infantry fighting vehicles3,2623
Armored personnel carriers10,6441
Amphibious assault vehicles1,4011
Armored utility vehicles28,4451
Storage12,8001
Total60,9371

The U.S. is internalizing the lessons from the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, where Western-supplied anti-tank weapons and massed Ukrainian artillery have been cutting Russian tanks to pieces. As a result, the U.S. recently canceled an upgrade of the M1 Abrams in favor of a more ambitious upgrade.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is nervously eyeing a more confident China and a potential clash over Taiwan, where air and naval forces will be critical. However, a recent war game showed that Taiwanese mechanized ground forces, kitted out with American-made tanks and armored fighting vehicles, were critical in keeping the island autonomous.

2. Russia

According to Oryx, a Dutch open-source intelligence defense website, at time of writing, Russia has lost almost 2,800 main battle tanks since invading Ukraine. Considering that in the 2022 edition of the Military Balance, Russia was estimated to have 2,927 MBTs in operation, those are some hefty losses.

Russia has been able to maintain about 2,000 MBTs in the field, in part, by increasing domestic production. Many defense plants have been taken over by state-owned Rostec and now operate around the clock. Russia is also now spending a full third of their budget on defense, equivalent to about 7.5% of GDP.

At the same time, they’ve also been drawing down their Soviet-era stockpiles, which are modernized before being sent to the front. Just how long they can keep this up is an open question; their stockpiles are large, but not limitless. Here is what their storage levels look like:

Category20232024YOY change
Main battle tanks5,0004,000-20.0%
Armored reconnaissance1,000100-90.0%
Infantry fighting vehicles4,0002,800-30.0%
Armored personnel carriers6,0002,300-61.7%
Total16,0009,200-42.5%

3. China

China holds the third overall spot and top place globally for the number of main battle tanks in operation. Untypically, the People’s Liberation Army has no armored vehicles in storage, which perhaps isn’t surprising when you consider that China has been rapidly modernizing its military and that stockpiles usually contain older models.

China also has one of the world’s largest fleets of armored fighting vehicles, second only to the United States. Breaking down that headline number, we can also see that they have the largest number of light tanks, wheeled guns, and infantry fighting vehicles. 

CategoryVehiclesGlobal rank
Main battle tanks4,7001
Light tanks1,3301
Wheeled guns1,2501
Infantry fighting vehicles8,2001
Armored personnel carriers3,6045
Airborne combat vehicles1802
Amphibious assault vehicles9902
Total20,2543

This is equipment that would be integral if China were to make an attempt to reunify Taiwan with the mainland by force, where lightly armored mechanized units need to move with speed to occupy the island before Western allies can enter the fray. It’s worth noting that China also has one of the world’s largest fleets of amphibious assault vehicles.

End of the Tank?

Many commentators at the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, were quick to predict the end of the tank, however, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the tank’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

With the U.S. and China both developing remote and autonomous armored vehicles, tanks could be quite different in the future, but there is nothing else that matches them for firepower, mobility, and survivability on the modern battlefield today.

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