U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about his decision to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan by about 30,000 during a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, on December 1, 2009. The buildup is targeted to reverse the Taliban advances in the country and to train Afghan soldiers and police. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- With U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement that he's sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, it's important to note that the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is only a small portion of the total number deployed abroad.
The map to the right shows the number of troops stationed in different countries. The numbers include forces deployed for temporary military engagements, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, along with those permanently stationed on foreign bases. The 2009 numbers were taken from the U.S. Department of Defense and the historical numbers were taken from a study by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Some interesting facts gleaned from the data:
-- There are 516,273 U.S. military service members in approximately 150 foreign countries. These numbers include troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan along with permanently stationed troops in places such as Germany, Italy and Japan. Iraq has the largest U.S. military presence with 171,000 troops, though this will decrease over the next few years.
-- Germany has the third largest number of U.S. military service members on its soil with 53,960. It is host to many American military bases, including Ramstein Air Base, which is the headquarters for the U.S. Air Force in Europe.
According to Tim Kane, author of the Global U.S. Troop Deployment study and a former fellow at The Heritage Foundation, following World War II, Germany was considered the main battleground for a potential World War III, and U.S. troop levels there tripled from 1950 to 1953 to 254,347. But after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, there was a significant drawdown in forces, to about 134,000 in 1992. Though Iraq and Afghanistan have more troops deployed, Germany has the largest number of permanently stationed American military personnel in the world.
-- Until 2003, troop levels in the Middle East were significantly lower than in Europe and East Asia. In 1990, for example, during the first Gulf War, there were 38,841 troops deployed to all of Middle East. At the same time there were 287,000 and 103,000 troops in Europe and East Asia, respectively. Currently the level of troops in the Middle East is approximately double the size of forces in any other region.
-- There are approximately 1.6 million service members in all of the U.S. armed forces. About 1.13 million troops are stationed inside the United States and the rest are deployed around the world.