Drawdown: Improving U.S. and Global Security Through Military Base Closures Abroad


by Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, September 30, 2021

Despite the withdrawal of U.S. military bases and troops from Afghanistan, the United States continues to maintain around 750 military bases abroad in 80 foreign countries and colonies (territories).

These bases are costly in a number of ways: financially, politically, socially, and environmentally. U.S. bases in foreign lands often raise geopolitical tensions, support undemocratic regimes, and serve as a recruiting tool for militant groups opposed to the U.S. presence and the governments its presence bolsters.

In other cases, foreign bases are being used and have made it easier for the United States to launch and execute disastrous wars, including those in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.

Across the political spectrum and even within the U.S. military there is growing recognition that many overseas bases should have been closed decades ago, but bureaucratic inertia and misguided political interests have kept them open.

This report was produced by David Vine, Patterson Deppen and Leah Bolger https://quincyinst.org/report/drawdow…

Fast facts on overseas U.S. military outposts:

• There are approximately 750 U.S. military base sites abroad in 80 foreign countries and colonies.

• The United States has nearly three times as many bases abroad (750) as U.S. embassies, consulates, and missions worldwide (276).

• While there are approximately half as many installations as at the Cold War’s end, U.S. bases have spread to twice as many countries and colonies (from 40 to 80) in the same time, with large concentrations of facilities in the Middle East, East Asia, parts of Europe, and Africa.

• The United States has at least three times as many overseas bases as all other countries combined.

• U.S. bases abroad cost taxpayers an estimated $55 billion annually.

• Construction of military infrastructure abroad has cost taxpayers at least $70 billion since 2000, and could total well over $100 billion.

• Bases abroad have helped the United States launch wars and other combat operations in at least 25 countries since 2001.

• U.S. installations are found in at least 38 non-democratic countries and colonies.

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