NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 18, 2008

The Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the world's largest landlords with more than 545,700 facilities (buildings, structures and linear structures) located on more than 5,400 sites on approximately 30 million acres.  In its new Base Structure Report (BSR), the DoD reveals just how far the military has spread across the globe.

The Base Structure Report represents a consolidated summary of the DoD's real property inventory (RPI) as reflected in Military Departments' and Washington Headquarters Service's native real property databases as of September 30, 2007.  It provides a comprehensive listing of sites owned or used by the Department.  As of last summer:

  • The Pentagon rents or owns 316,238 buildings around the world with a total value of more than $455 billion.
  • These holdings are spread across 4,668 sites in the United States and its territories and 761 in foreign countries.
  • That latter number doesn't include bases and sites in war zones or in those trouble spots where the United States doesn't release detailed information and expenditures.

This isn't a record for the DoD.  The official number of military sites peaked in 1967, at the height of the Cold War and the conflict in Vietnam, with 1,014 locations in foreign countries.  And the number is down from 823 in 2007.

According to journalist Chalmers Johnson, one factor keeping the figure from rising further is the anti-American sentiment that spikes when the U.S. military moves in, allowing locals to blame Americans for any conflict in the region.  For instance, Kyrgyzstani President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has threatened to close down the Manas air base demanding more payment for rent.  And Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has threatened to end America's lease on the Eloy Alfaro Air Base when it expires in 2009, suggesting he might lease to China instead. 

Source: David Weigel, "Empire Bloat," Reason, December 2008; based upon: Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, "Department of Defense Base Structure Report: Fiscal Year 2008 Baseline (A Summary of DoD's Real Property Inventory)," Department of Defense, January 2008.

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