CRS Report for Congress
Foreign Military Troops in the United States
Edward F. Bruner
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division
This report discusses to what extent and why military personnel and forces from
foreign nations are sometimes stationed in the United States. Upon discovering specific
instances of foreign troop presence, some members of the public have expressed
concern. In general, however, the presence of such foreign representation on U.S. soil
is neither a new nor unusual phenomenon. This report will be updated when significant,
new information becomes available.
The great bulk of foreign military personnel in the United States are individuals
assigned here for specialized training or to fill exchange faculty and staff positions. They
can be found on almost all major training installations of all Services throughout the
United States. Their duration of presence in the United States could range from a few
weeks to several years. On occasion, foreign military units participate for a few weeks
in combined military exercises on U.S. land or water training ranges (one of the more
widely noted being a small Russian unit that trained with U.S. forces at Fort Riley, Kansas
in October 1995). A single, comprehensive listing of where and why all foreign
personnel and units are here would be quite extensive and is not known to exist.
The largest number of foreign personnel come here under the International Military
Education and Training Program (IMET) sponsored by the State Department and executed
by the Department of Defense. For FY1998, DoD estimated that some 8,840 foreign
military personnel from some 116 nations would be hosted throughout the United States
under IMET. (For background, see CRS Report 96-854, International Military and
Education Training Program, by Richard Grimmett, October 25, 1996, 6 p.)
An example of a U.S. site that hosts many foreign students is Fort Benning near
Columbus, Georgia. The U.S. Army Infantry School there annually trains a total of 750
to 800 foreign students from up to 109 different nations. On the same post, the School
of the Americas has trained, on an annual basis, approximately 700 additional students
from 16 Latin American nations (see CRS Report 97-726, U.S. Army School of the

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Americas: Background and Congressional Concerns, by Richard F. Grimmett and Mark
P. Sullivan, updated March 17, 1998, 9 p.).
An example of a nation that stations and trains many military personnel in the United
States is Germany. Typically, Germany has some 2,500 people at 54 locations throughout
the United States and Canada. It maintains a German Armed Forces Command U.S.A.
and Canada Headquarters in Reston, Virginia. In 1996, the German Air Force Tactical
Training Center for fighter pilots was established at Holloman Air Force Base near
Alamogordo, New Mexico (see CRS Report 96-462, German Military Presence in the
United States: The Case of Holloman Air Force Base, by Karen Donfried, May 22, 1996,
6 p.). The German Air Force Command for US/Canada is headquartered and major
surface-to-air missile training is conducted by the German Air Force Air Defense School
at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas.
The Government of the United States invites foreign military personnel and
units to train in the United States for several reasons. In some cases, there appears to be
mutual benefit in providing unique U.S. facilities to allies and friends; for example, most
small nations cannot support all the specialized and high-level training opportunities
found in the United States and many do not have the open spaces needed for intensive
practice with modern weapons. In other cases, it is felt that today’s immersion of foreign
soldiers in U.S. military doctrine and practices would pay dividends whenever they might
be called to fight as partners in battle. Some believe that their temporary immersion in
American culture leads to greater understanding and eventual promotion of democratic
ideals abroad. On a narrower basis, it appears that local U.S. communities tend to
welcome foreign military guest programs for perceived cultural and economic advantages.
Finally, there is some element of reciprocity involved in inviting foreign military
units and personnel to the United States. For fifty years, the U.S. strategy of “forward
presence” has resulted in large numbers of U.S. forces being stationed in many foreign
nations — with their concurrence. For example, while Germany has approximately 2,500
military personnel in the United States, some 60,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed
in Germany (see CRS Report 95-829, U.S. Military Dispositions: Fact Sheet, by Edward
F. Bruner, updated April 13, 1998, 2 p.).