The Case Against U.S. Overseas Military Bases

Why They Are No Longer a Strategic Asset

Paratroopers of the U.S. Army 86th Army Wings leave an Air Force C-130J transport plane after a training flight at the air base in Ramstein, February 2012.  Alex Domanski / REUTERS

Over the last several decades, the digital revolution has fundamentally transformed business best practices. The changes have been slow to penetrate the public sector, however, which remains tied to traditional thinking and practices. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is trying to review all aspects of the State Department to get it up to speed, which is all to the good. But even bigger game would be the Pentagon, the world’s largest bureaucracy. The strategy, structure, and funding priorities of the U.S. military were set decades ago, in response to an entirely different geopolitical, economic, and technological environment.

Consider today’s elaborate and expensive network of U.S. overseas military bases, which first emerged as coaling stations for navy ships a century and a half ago. Modern surveillance and targeting technology have made the bases increasingly vulnerable, and the presence of U.S. military bases can militarize

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