View Full Version : Global U.S. Troop Deployment, 1950-2005

05-29-2006, 12:35 PM
24 May Heritage Foundation study - Global U.S. Troop Deployment, 1950-2005 (http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/cda06-02.cfm).

Heavy deployments of American troops to the Middle East are an essential part of the global war on terrorism. However, the duration of troop deployments has been a source of controversy within the United States. There is controversy about whether there are too many or too few soldiers in Iraq, controversy about the nature of America’s geopolitical ambitions, and controversy about the impact on the families of soldiers. Much of the debate is carried on in a fact-free vacuum, lacking the context of Ameri*can troops’ traditional footprint around the globe for the past half-century.


On average, 23 percent of all U.S. servicemen were stationed on foreign soil during 1950–2005. In 2005, 27 percent were deployed, which is roughly the average of the 1950s. The low point in percentage terms was 13.7 percent in 1995, while the high point was 31 percent in 1951 and 1968.

There are fewer troops deployed on foreign soil today than during the average year of the late 20th century. Roughly 386,000 troops were stationed overseas in 2005 compared to an average of 535,540 during 1950–2000. Deployments have ranged from a high of 1,082,777 troops in 1968 to a low of 206,002 in 1999.

There were 118.82 million U.S. military billets during 1950-2000 (with “billet” defined as one serviceman for one year). Of that total, 27.3 million billets were overseas assignments.

Since 1950, 54 countries have hosted at least 1,000 American troops. Troop deployments are widespread every year. During the past 50 years, different countries have hosted 1,000 or more U.S. troops at one point. During the typical year, 20 countries hosted 1,000 (or more) U.S. soldiers. An additional 11.8 countries hosted 100 to 999 American troops. Dur*ing the 1990s, troops were concentrated in fewer countries. In 2003, 14 countries hosted 1,000 or more American troops—the same number of countries as in 2000.

Twice as many U.S. troops were deployed in the Middle East as in other regions in 2005. During the second half of the 20th century, the number of U.S. troops in Europe and Asia dwarfed the number stationed in the other three regions: Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas (excluding the United States). Fifty-two percent of deployed troops were in Europe, and 41 percent were in Asia. More than one-third of troop deployments during 1950–2000 were to Germany alone, which hosted over 10,000,000 U.S. military personnel. Since 2003, however, the number of U.S. troops in the Middle East has increased dramatically, while troop levels in East Asia and Europe have continued their steady decline.