Mighty Bastions: The Largest Military Bases in the World

The biggest military bases in the world serve as the operational foundation for a nation's armed forces. These behemoth bastions are often considered the first line of defence, the visible manifestations of might. Read on to discover the astonishing size of the biggest army base in the world.

Building Big Engineering
25 July 2023

In a world where geopolitical tensions and threats to national security are constant, the largest military bases in the world are fortresses of power. Designed not only for training soldiers, maintaining weaponry, and housing military personnel, but also for rapid deployment in times of conflict.

The contenders for the title of the world’s biggest military base span the globe and come from several different nations. As well as soldiers on active duty, they often also house their families and civilian contractors offering support services. From medical personnel tending to the injured, to engineers maintaining infrastructure, these vast bases are often self-sustaining cities in their own right.

Prepare to discover the biggest military bases in the world, mammoth installations that are both home and workplace to thousands of individuals.

Dynamic Data & The Availability of Information

Soldier standing on tarmac at Miramar military base in San Diego. (Credit: Cavan Images via Getty Images)

Before we explore the runners and riders for the biggest army base in the world, it’s important to issue a caveat. The world of military installations is one of rapid change and cautious information control.

The data quoted in this article represents the most accurate and up-to-date publicly-available information at time of writing. However, the dynamic nature of these facilities can result in swift changes that aren’t immediately reflected in public domain knowledge. Moreover, the world’s militaries are notoriously reticent when it comes to revealing information about their personnel, assets, and strategic installations. Understandably, operational security and national interests often necessitate this veil of secrecy.

Consequently, figures cited regarding the largest military bases in the world may be based on estimated data, or are the most recent figures disclosed by the relevant authorities.

Catterick Garrison

The Queen's Royal Lancers At Catterick Army Base In Yorkshire (Credit: Mark Cuthbert / Contributor via Getty Images)

Location: North Yorkshire, UK | Opened: 1914 | Population: Approx. 15,000

The location of Catterick Garrison was recommended by none other than Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of The Scouts. At the time, he was Inspector-General of the Cavalry based at a barracks in the nearby Richmond Castle.

Catterick isn’t the world’s largest military base but it’s believed to be the world’s largest British Army garrison. It’s home to various regiments and units and also provides comprehensive facilities and services for military personnel and their families.

Ramstein Air Base

Ramstein Air Base, Germany (Credit: Timm Ziegenthaler/Stocktrek Images via Getty Images)

Location: Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany | Opened: 1953 | Area: Approx. 3,500 acres

Just ten miles from the southwest German city of Kaiserslautern, Ramstein Air Base is a United States Air Force base and headquarters for the NATO Air Allied Command. It’s the largest US air base in Europe and one of the biggest military bases in the world. Over 16,000 US military, civilians and contractors work at Ramstein.

Hindan Air Force Station

Hindan Air Force Station (Credit: Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Location: Uttar Pradesh, India | Opened: 1960s | Area: Approx. 13,600 acres

While Hindan AFS isn’t the world’s biggest military base, it’s reported to be the biggest in Asia. It’s governed by the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force, the regional command responsible for the aerial defence of northern India. Hindan is home to the IAF C-17 Globemaster and the C-130J Super Hercules and the AAI, the Airports Authority of India, runs a civil enclave adjacent to the base to alleviate congestion at the nearby Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Fort Liberty

Fort Liberty (Credit: ALLISON JOYCE/AFP via Getty Images)

Location: North Carolina, USA | Opened: 1918 | Area: Approx. 172,000 acres

Fort Liberty, previously known as Fort Bragg, is one of the largest military bases in the world. It’s home to The United States Army Forces Command as well as a number of other units. Around 54,000 troops and 14,000 civilians reside at Fort Liberty. Including military families, contractors, retirees and others, the population is as high as 260,000. Of the 172,000 acres of land, at least 146,000 are dedicated to military training, while the base contains over 2,200 kilometres of paved roads and 37 kilometres of railway track.

Fort Moore

Fort Moore, Georgia, USA (Credit: CHENEY ORR / Contributor via Getty Images)

Location: Georgia, USA | Opened: 1918 | Area: Approx. 182,000 acres

Fort Moore, previously known as Fort Benning, is a key installation for the United States Army. It’s home to the United States Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, the United States Army Armor School, and the United States Army Infantry School. It has been a centre for infantry training since the end of World War I. Over 120,000 people are supported at what is one of the world’s largest military bases, including active-duty soldiers, military families, army reserves, retirees and civilian employees.

Zhurihe Training Base

Zhurihe Training Base (Credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Location: Inner Mongolia, China | Opened: 1957 | Area: Approx. 263,500 acres

Zhurihe Combined Tactics Training Base is believed to be the biggest army base in the world. Within the confines of the base are a series of mock facilities used for training, including miles of paved roads, airstrips, a replica of a town centre, office buildings and a hospital. Located in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, approximately 500 kilometres north of Beijing, the Zhurihe base is designed to provide realistic battle training, including vast tracts of grasslands, hills and deserts, to train China’s army.

Bustling Centres of Military Operation

F-15 Eagle fighter plane (Credit: guvendemir via Getty Images)

From the windswept plains of North Yorkshire, through the bustling centres of North Carolina and Georgia, to the expansive tracts of Inner Mongolia, these military bases stand testament to the huge scale of modern military operation.

These military installations are more than simply their physical boundaries and the number of troops they house. Each is a complex operation that serves a myriad of functions. They serve as training grounds, strategic command centres, and home bases for rapid response in times of conflict. Moreover, they’re often self-sustaining communities that support a multitude of lives and careers.

While these bases vary in size, history, and purpose, they all share a common goal: to maintain the readiness and effectiveness of the armed forces they serve.


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