As the largest branch of America’s military, the United States Army has bases on six of the world’s continents. Many of the military installations contain runways, countless barracks, training centers, proving grounds, research centers and hospitals, and some outposts have systems that are able to detect and to shoot down incoming missiles. According to several reports, the United States will create or reactivate more than 80 advanced bases during the next decade; however, approximately 20 outposts will likely be decommissioned in the same time period.
A 28th Infantry Division color bearer stands at attention at the Pennsylvania Memorial in Varennes-en-Argonne, France, during a wreath-laying ceremony there Saturday, May 24, 2014. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Doug Roles)
At the beginning of 1915, the United States Army had approximately 100,000 troops. In order to prepare the army to join the war in Europe, the government launched a program that increased the number of troops to 208,000, and by March 1916, the army had approximately 11,300 officers. Consequently, 25 new training camps were created, and within the subsequent decade, more than 72 percent of these facilities would be converted into official bases.
In April 1917, the United States entered World War I, and almost immediately, the president developed plans for sending 500,000 soldiers to Great Britain. Experts estimate that more than 70 new bases were established between April 1917 and the end of the war, which occurred in 1919. By November 1919, more than 1.5 million U.S. troops were in France.
Like outposts that were constructed by the French and the British, the U.S. Army’s bases were typically surrounded by a series of trenches, and artillery was positioned behind these defenses. The facilities also featured sizable watchtowers, but due to the lack of air defense, these structures were frequently attacked by warplanes.
When the United States first entered the war, American pilots solely used planes that had been manufactured by the French or the British. Subsequently, the U.S. army built and tested some of the most advanced planes of World War I, such as the Aeromarine 40, the Curtis NC and the Curtis H-16.
The American government did not sign the Treaty of Versailles, and the country became increasingly isolationist between 1920 and 1935. During this time period, approximately 10 percent of the nation’s military installations ceased to operate.
In spite of this general drawdown, the army established bases in the Philippines. Smaller outposts were also built on Midway Island and the Marshall Islands.
World War II reenactors transport a World War II veteran transport a World War II veteran to the park’s reception area where thousands attended the dedication of the World War II Veterans Memorial Park, in Manchester Township.
During 1942, the United States began to create military installations in the southern part of England that are utilized today, and the army set up countless outposts for the United States Army Air Forces, which was converted into the U.S. Air Force in 1947. Unlike most previous bases, the facilities featured areas for training crews that managed tanks and defensive positions that allowed soldiers to practice amphibious assaults.
Army bases had anti-aircraft weapons that generally featured guns with a size of 20 millimeters to 120 millimeters, and for the first time, the military began to install radar, which had a range of approximately 250 miles. In spite of this technology’s benefits, radar could not usually differentiate between a group of warplanes and a flock of birds.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Japan’s military was forced to neutralize the bases of the United States on numerous islands before an invasion of Australia could be conducted. Attempts to attack these bases lead to the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, and these conflicts were both won by the United States.
During the last year of the war, American troops set up major bases near vital ports, such as Cherbourg, Antwerp and Dunkirk. The army also established facilities in Italy and in Germany, and during the Cold War, the U.S. Army created an especially large amount of bases in Bavaria, which is strategically located to the south of Berlin and near several countries that were in the Warsaw Pact.
America started to develop tanks during 1917, and in World War II, the United States manufactured more than 42,000 Sherman M4 tanks. This machine was the second most prolific tank of the conflict.
In 2015, many bases feature training grounds with extensive trenches, makeshift minefields, man-made rivers, fake defenses and fences that are made of metal. The soldiers also learn to maneuver tanks through cities that have narrow streets, jungles that are especially dense and sand dunes of all sizes. After learning to overcome these obstacles, crews in the United States Army are generally taught to shoot the tank’s main gun while the vehicle is moving, and some businesses manufacture obstacles that pop up periodically in order to surprise the main gunner.
Soldiers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, take a break between rounds of qualifying with their M1A2 Abrams Tanks during gunnery qualifications at Udairi range near Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Nov. 12, 2013. Company C qualified more than 12 tank crews during the certification process.
These structures are typically positioned in the central section of a military installation. If an entire area has been converted into a large base, the barracks are generally situated in a place that allows troops to rapidly launch a mobile defense of the facilities and to counterattack the forces of an enemy.
Most bases only allow troops and guests to utilize two entry points. In order to visit a base, an individual must be a reservist, the dependent of a soldier, a retired soldier, a person who is on active duty or a member of the Department of Defense.
All major bases of the U.S. Army feature fitness centers that allow soldiers to lift weights and to run. During the last several decades, the army has strongly emphasized the overall endurance of the troops, and as a result, many soldiers participate in long runs several times per week.
Many bases have obstacle courses that require soldiers to scale vertical walls, to crawl rapidly and to climb nets that have a height of 45 feet. Some inclined obstacles feature boards that are spaced apart, and in addition to climbing up the boards, troops must crawl down the other side while laying on their stomachs.
Military installations commonly feature theaters, pools and shops of all types. Sometimes, bases host numerous events, such as concerts and small festivals.
Many military installations feature command centers that are positioned underground, and the facilities are usually connected by a network of tunnels. Generally, the builders of these subterranean structures place steel or concrete above the bunkers in order to prevent damage from missiles.
According to numerous analyses, the United States has more worldwide bases than any other nation. In the country, many U.S. bases are positioned on the East Coast. A large amount of military installations are also located in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada because of the vast deserts that these states contain. Furthermore, many bases are situated in California.
In 2015, America has military bases in Canada, Colombia, Peru and Honduras. The United States also owns bases in 14 European countries. The U.S. Army has proposed the creation of new bases in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, and these nations are members of NATO.
In Africa, the United States only manages bases in Egypt; however, the army has plans to establish especially advanced military bases in Algeria, which was a colony of France until 1962. The governments of Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Mali have created comprehensive plans for the creation of bases that will be managed by the United States, and according to one report, the U.S. Army plans to have military bases in each of these nations by 2027.
During the last 65 years, the U.S. Army has created military installations in Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Israel. During the Gulf War, the United States began to establish bases in Saudi Arabia.
In the last three years, the president has given numerous speeches that indicate the presence of plans that will prevent Chinese influence in Asia from increasing. America currently has outposts in Australia, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines. In South Korea, countless bases were created after the end of the Korean War in 1953. Furthermore, the United States is negotiating the creation of new bases in Vietnam and Malaysia.
France has the second highest number of overseas bases in the world, and the nation manages military installations in 14 foreign countries. According to official reports, all of France’s foreign bases contain less than 2,100 French troops.
The Russian Federation has bases in 11 nations, and nine of these countries were once members of the Soviet Union. Branches of the Russian military manage a base in Syria that provides access to the Mediterranean Sea. During the last 12 years, the country closed bases in Azerbaijan and in Cuba.