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Candidate Contrast

On Thursday, vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will debate foreign policy, and the presidential candidates will debate it Oct. 22. One element of the United States foreign policy is its military interactions with other nations. Here is how the two candidates view the current U.S. military situation overseas.

2011 U.S. Military Presence Abroad


  1. Active duty military personnel by military branch (PIE CHART)

Total: 1,414,149
Army: 558,571
Navy: 322,629
Marine Corps: 200,225
Air Force: 332,724

  1. Active duty military personnel by area of the world (Either pie chart or color-coded map with numbers)

Total: 1,414,149
Europe*: 80,370
United States and U.S. Territories: 1,217,901
Former Soviet Union: 146
East Asia and the Pacific*: 51,170
North Africa, Near East and South Asia*: 4,604
Sub-Saharan Africa: 509
Western Hemisphere: 1,970
Undistributed: 57.479

* Numbers do not include deployments. An additional 152,000 members of the military are deployed in the Near East, 1,775 are deployed in Europe, and 3,360 are deployed in East Asia and the Pacific.

Information from Department of Defense

Candidate Stances

“America will never retreat from the world. We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens and our friends, and we will stand with our allies. We are willing to partner with countries around the world to deepen ties of trade and investment, and science and technology, energy and development — all efforts that can spark economic growth for all our people and stabilize democratic change. But such efforts depend on a spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama said to the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 25, 2012.
-Return troops from Afghanistan and end the war by 2014
-Secure vulnerable nuclear materials
-Use money no longer spent on war to reduce debt and put people to work
-Commit to Israel’s security

“This century must be an American Century. In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world. … America must lead the world, or someone else will. Without American leadership, without clarity of American purpose and resolve, the world becomes a far more dangerous place, and liberty and prosperity would surely be among the first casualties,” Mitt Romney said Oct. 7, 2011, at the Citadel Military College in Charleston, S.C.
-Modernize and strengthen armed forces structure
-Commit to a multi-layered national ballistic-missile defense system
-Set core defense spending at 4 percent of GDP
-Work closely with Israel to maintain a strategic military edge

Politics Beat Reporter Kate Winkle can be reached at

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