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October 29, 2004

October 29, 2004 | News Releases on

New Database Tracks American Troop Deployment Overseas Since 1950

WASHINGTON, OCT. 28, 2004 - For decades, American servicemen have been deployed around the globe, but there has never been a year-to-year accounting of where they served. A new report from The Heritage Foundation fills that gap.

The historical database on troop deployment, compiled by Heritage economist Timothy Kane, reveals that:

  • On average, more than a fifth of all U.S. servicemen were stationed on foreign soil between 1950 and 2003.
  • Last year, more than 380,000 troops were based on foreign soil, about 4 percent higher than the average between 1950 and 2003.
  • Since 1950, 54 countries have hosted at least 1,000 American troops.

These data will be particularly important as politicians take up the critical issue of troop redeployment. "The current proposed realignment of 70,000 troops from foreign countries to domestic bases is neither the first nor the last step in modernizing America's global military posture," Kane says.

But before we begin moving bases, he says, we must understand the global role the U.S. military played in the past and whether it has been effective. This dataset, publicly available on, will allow researchers to do that.

Kane has broken down the data by continents, showing how many Americans have been based in which areas and for how long. "No other military in world history has been so widely deployed as that of the United States," Kane says.

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