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Military bases around the world are hubs of activity, with facilities for housing, operations, cooking and dining, hygiene, equipment maintenance and storage, and even medical care and treatment. The United States is known for having the largest defense budget as well as the largest military bases in the world. These expansive military camps support populations of thousands of soldiers, retirees, personnel, and their civilian families. Alaska Structures Military ranks the world’s five largest military bases by population below.

5. Fort Benning

Fort Benning

Population: 107,627

Location: Georgia/Alabama

Area: 182,000 acres

With a population of 107,627 and more than one-quarter of the population active duty members, Fort Benning has the 5th largest army base in the world. It is a ‘Tri-Community’, with parts of the base in Columbus, Georgia, Fort Benning, and Phenix City, Alabama. Fort Benning covers 284 square miles and is the home of the U.S. Armour and Infantry. As a power projection platform, the Fort is able to deploy forces by air, rail, and highway that are completely ready for combat.

Fort Benning’s name honors Brigadier General Henry L. Benning, who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Established in October 1918, the Fort began as a training center and by the 1950s had the nation’s leading infantry training program. Fort Benning also established schools for air assault and the ranger school that teaches advanced skills. Today, the fort is the Home of the Infantry, National Infantry Museum and U.S. Army Infantry School, and the Maneuver Center of Excellence since 2005.

4. Joint Base Lewis – McChord

Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Population: 209,000

Location: Washington State

Area: 410,000 acres (includes 324,000 acre Yakima Training Center)

In the Pacific Northwest, Joint Base Lewis – McChord has a population of 209,000 in total, including military personnel, family members, and retired veterans. Its population size makes it the 4th largest military base in the world. The joint base also spans over 645 square miles of land in the Pierce County region. The United States Army’s Fort Lewis merged with the United States Air Force’s McChord Air Force Base in February 2010 to create this joint base. The merger was a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations.

Construction of Camp Lewis began May 1917 and its name honors Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The first recruits arrived in September 1917, increasing the population to 37,000. Over the years the camp expanded and supported troops through both World Wars, the Vietnam War, Cold War and Gulf Wars. 10 years later, another bond measure passed to open an airfield north of Fort Lewis. McChord field opened in 1940 and named after Colonel William Caldwell McChord who died in an air accident. During World War II, McChord became the largest US bomber training installation and also organized an attack that destroyed a Japanese submarine.

Today, Joint Base Lewis – McChord is home to I Corps and the 62d Airlift Wing and serves as a center for training and mobilization of all military services. It’s the sole Army power projection base west of the Rocky Mountains.

3. Fort Hood

Fort Hood

Population: 217,000

Location: Texas

Area: 214,000 acres

Originally built for testing and training World War II tank destroyers, Fort Hood is another one of the largest military camps in the world. Located in Texas, it is the home of the Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center. 45,414 active soldiers have assignments at Fort Hood, with a total population of 217,000 including family members and civilian personnel. This makes Fort Hood the 3rd largest military base in the world. Fort Hood also occupies an area of 335 square miles and supports year-round training of air and ground combat.

When constructed in early 1942, approximately 300 families had to relocate from their homes to make way for the base, but the army allowed a grazing arrangement for neighbors to continue to use for their livestock. Fort Hood opened in September 1942 and supported almost 38,000 troops.  The camp name honors General John Bell Hood, who served the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The Army purchased another 16,000 acres in January 1943, which eventually became known as North Camp Hood and housed about 40,000 troops and 4,000 prisoners of war during World War II. While Fort Hood has a variety of designations, it is a major site for the training and testing of new tactics, equipment and organizations since the 1970s. It was also a hub for anti-war activity throughout the Vietnam War and the War on Terror. Today Fort Hood is the largest armored post with active duty military.

2. Fort Campbell

Fort Campbell

Population: 234,900

Location: Tennessee/Kentucky

Area: 102,414 acres

The Fort Campbell army base, located in between Clarksville, Tennessee and Hopkinsville, Kentucky, is on the Kentucky-Tennessee Border. The total population of Fort Campbell is 234,900 with 29,000 of the population being active troops. The total area of the base is 164 square miles and supports the 2nd largest military base in the world.

The base established in 1941 and is named in honor of Union Army Brigadier General William Bowen Campbell. Until the end of the second World War, Fort Campbell was a training ground for the 12th, 14th, and 20th Armored divisions, as well as headquarters for the IV Armored Corps and 26th Infantry Division. Fort Campbell is home to the 101st Airborne Division, known as the “screaming eagles,” an elite division trained for air assault. Today they also perform parachute demonstrations for live audiences around the country. In addition to the 101st, the base supports the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and other groups.

1. Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg

Population: 260,000

Location: North Carolina

Area: 160,640 acres

Located in North Carolina, Fort Bragg is also known as “the center of the military universe.” It has a total population of about 260,000. 53,700 active troops and 14,000 civilians work at the post and almost 10% of all army forces have an assignment there. The total area of the base is 251 square miles, with the post itself being 19 square miles. With its active and civilian population, Fort Bragg is the largest military base in the world and it’s still growing.

It was first established in 1918 and named after Braxton Bragg, a commander in the Confederate States Army during the civil war. Created to serve as a training center for artillery, it had the necessary terrain, water access, climate and access to rail facilities to train soldiers year-round. Fort Bragg’s original intended purpose was to support six artillery brigades, but that plan fell through after the end of World War I, due to demobilization. The camp was almost closed in August of 1921 because of cutbacks after the war, but after revoking the closure order, its population surpassed 5,400 by 1940. During the rest of the years of World War II, Fort Bragg reached a population peak of almost 160,000. The base underwent updates in the mid- and late 1990s, and the operations tempo units experienced a significant increase from the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fort Bragg is home to the 82nd Airborne, the Special Operation Force and the U.S. Army Parachute Team.

The largest military installations in the world are more like self-sufficient, completely functional cities than bases. Whether active military or stay-at-home mom, millions of people across the country call them home. The United States are home to all of the five largest, and in addition to the information above they are outlined again by population in the list below:

 1. Fort Bragg 260,000160,640 acres
 2. Fort Campbell 234,900102,414 acres
 3. Fort Hood 217,000214,000 acres
 4. Joint Base Lewis-McChord 210,000410,000 acres
 5. Fort Benning 107,627182,000 acres


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