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Effects of U.S. Overseas Military Presence

PI: Michael Allen, Boise State University

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The Political, Economic, and Social Effects of the United States' Overseas Military Presence

Principal Investigator: Michael Allen, Boise State University

Co-Investigators: Michael Flynn, Kansas State University; Carla Martinez Machain, Kansas State University; Andrew Stravers, University of Texas, Austin

Years of Award: 2017-2020

Managing Service Agency: Army Research Office

Project Description

Despite the fact that the United States has stationed an average of 20 percent of its entire military abroad since WWII, we know comparatively little about the broader political, economic, and social effects that deployments have on host states. These deployments amount to millions of U.S. Military personnel rotating through hundreds of overseas locations over the course of several decades, and yet there is scant research on how these deployments alter the structure of daily life in surrounding communities. From positive externalities like providing a boon to local economies and breaking down cultural and language barriers, to negative externalities like increased crime, noise, and pollution, this project will examine these effects in greater detail than existing research

This project will look at the individual, local, and regional factors that shape attitudes toward the U.S. military presence within host states. It will conduct surveys of host-state populations in 14 countries that host the majority of U.S. forces abroad. These surveys ask a series of 50 questions that will expand our understanding of the behavioral, attitudinal, and demographic determinants of attitudes toward the U.S. Military, the American people, and the U.S. government as a whole among the populations of host states. 

The project will also collect new data on three items crucial to the U.S. overseas military presence. 

• First, it will collect new data on crimes committed both by and against U.S. military forces. Such crimes often create political waves in host countries, and examining trends and effects compared to their perceptions is fundamental to understanding the politics of U.S. basing abroad. 

• Second, it will collect data on protests against the U.S. military presence specifically and against the U.S. in general. New data on protests across basing contexts, in combination with survey data on broader perceptions of the U.S. presence, will deepen our understanding of how representative protest movements are, patterns in protests across national boundaries, along with how and why they start and end. 

• Third, it will collect new data on U.S. military spending abroad. While much work has been done on researching the causes and effects of U.S. military spending in the domestic context, there has been little recognition that large amounts of DOD spending goes abroad. This new data will move the field forward in its understanding of how the U.S. military affects the economies of host states and public attitudes in areas where it is spent.

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