The Depot

Military Bases: A Complete Guide


The U.S. military has a vast network of military installations all over the world. While many speculate on the number of military bases around the world, it is just that, speculation. The truth is that only the Pentagon knows exactly how many military bases there are around the globe, and they aren’t talking.

It makes sense that the U.S. military doesn’t disclose how many military bases it has around the world. It also makes sense that the U.S. military doesn’t disclose how many military bases it has in the United States, but most estimates are in the range of around 500.

At this point, it is important to note that when the term “military installation” is used, it means any base, camp, fort, station, yard, etc. that is used by the Department of Defense. So, when we mention military bases, it has some broad reach.

The U.S. military has military bases on every continent. Think about that for a minute. That’s quite a network. For the sake of this article, we will focus on U.S. bases in North America.

While states like Vermont and Minnesota do not have formal U.S. military bases, they do have military facilities that belong to their state National Guard units and those units can be federalized by order of the president. Otherwise, every state has U.S. military bases and of course, some, like Texas and California, because of their size, have many more military bases than other states.

It should be noted too that the coastal states tend to have military bases for the sea services, like the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard (which is not a part of the Defense Department unless elements of it are mobilized to serve under the command and control of the U.S. Navy). The U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force fill the middle of the country, but they also have military bases peppered throughout the nation.

New Hampshire has the least amounts of military bases with only one. Texas, Virginia, and California have the most military bases out of all states. 

The largest military base by populace is Fort Bragg which as of 2022 has more than 90,000 personnel who work and live on it. The largest of military bases by area is Fort Hood, Texas, with nearly 215,000 acres of land.

Virginia, North Dakota, and North Carolina round out the top states with the highest share of active-duty troops relative to the state’s occupants.

White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico has 3,200 square miles of space and is a short drive from Fort Bliss outside of El Paso, Texas. The Trinity Site is located here and it is the site of the first atomic bomb test which happened in in 1945.

All branches of service have their own military bases and they are titled differently depending on the branch of service and the particular mission of the military bases. Most Army posts are called forts. For example, Fort Benning, Fort Bragg, Fort Eustis are all Army installations.

U.S. Air Force bases are called, well, bases. Marines call their military bases camps. The Corps has Camp LeJeune, Camp Pendleton, for example, but they also have Depots, Stations, and Bases. Marine Recruit Depot Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, and Marine Corps Base Quantico, for example.

The U.S. Navy shares a similar naming convention as the Marine Corps. The Navy has bases, stations, and Depots as well. There is Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Naval Air Base, Pensacola, and Naval Station Norfolk, for example. As of mid-2021, the U.S. Navy maintains 82 primary activities, stations, and bases, according to the Navy website.

The U.S. Coast Guard has bases and stations since they have both air and ocean assets. Lastly, the U.S. Space Force has bases and stations.

Of course, there are other types of installations like yards, ranges, and facilities, but most are either a fort, base, station, camp, or depot.

Depots tend to be locations where supplies are stored and issued. Forts have multiple functions. Bases are normally associated with aviation. Stations tend to be linked to providing service or ports for fleet vessels (including spacecraft). Camps are similar to forts in that they have varying missions.

Stateside, military bases for the U.S. Air Force are called Air Force Bases. Overseas they are called air bases. For example, Osan Air Base instead of Osan Air Force Base. It is a subtlety.

U.S. Army installations overseas are named garrisons, but the Army also has camps. We can confuse you even more. Many National Guard military bases are called camps. For example, Camp Mabry, Camp Swift and Camp Minden all belong to the National Guard.

While it can be confusing, there are U.S. military bases all over the world and they all have a purpose and a mission. They are also strategically located, placed in locations intentionally for a reason. However, they all share the same purpose, and that is to protect freedom.

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