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Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Exploring the World in the USAF

Written by on Thursday, June 28th, 2012

“You get to see the world.” That’s a phrase every single American has heard at some point in his or her life. And unless you’re the type of person who hangs out with private airplane salesmen, the context of that tempting promise is the US military. Make no mistake: the statement generally holds true. With what is undoubtedly the single most proactive military in the world, the United States will readily send troops to the far corners of the planet. If you want to strap on your walking shoes and  travel the world and do something  meaningful while you’re at it, then signing on the dotted line may be the best choice for you.

But where will you go, exactly? Afghanistan? Well, it’s certainly possible, but just because the US military has been focused on the Middle East lately, that doesn’t mean that Afghanistan and the neighboring countries aren’t the only options. There are dozens of Air Force bases spread out across the world, so today we’re going to whip out Google Maps and see what’s out there. Don’t forget to grab a translator while you’re at it, because you may have to learn Japanese, German, or Italian to communicate effectively in these exotic locales.

Asia

Guam

Andersen Air Force Base is in the middle of the village of Yigo (pronounced “geego”), about 15 miles from the capital city of Agana. Here’s a picture of the Guam coast. Jealous?

 

Japan

Japan holds more USAF bases than any foreign country. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa is the Grand Central Station of military air traffic in Asia. It’s the largest and most active US Air Base in Asia, and it holds a staggering 18,000 US personnel and an additional 4,000 Japanese personnel.

Humble by comparison, Misawa Air Base is farther to the north of Japan, near Misawa City.

Yokoto Air Base is probably the one base most Airmen hope to visit. With a base population of 11,000 and only 28 miles from Tokyo, working at Yokoto Air Base ordering antibiotics would almost be like a vacation on the government’s dime.

South Korea

South Korea loves having Americans around, and we love being there. Their rather pugnacious neighbors to the north require a watchful eye to make sure that they don’t send any nuclear missiles our way. We hold Kusan Air Base, which is 150 miles south of the DMZ, and Osan, which is a short 30 mile drive from Seoul.

 

Europe

England

Our buddies across the pond allow us to maintain two bases there, RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall. Lakenheath is the larger of the two, supporting a massive staff of 7,000. The bases are only a few miles apart, so getting stationed at one and not the other wouldn’t make a hill of beans worth of difference.

Germany

There are two bases in Germany, Ramstein Air Base, which serves as a major hub for the USAF in Europe, and Spangdahlem Air Base, which is near the border of Luxembourg. Do you love bratwursts, beer, and F-15s? This is the place for you.

 

Italy

Aviano Air Base, which hosts the 31st Fighter Wing, is nestled in a valley along the northeastern part of Italy. From there, it’s only an hour-and-a-half car ride to Venice, where you can ride in a gondola and experience just how romantic the Italian people truly are.

Portugal

Lajes Field is located on the northeast tip of Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal. Working here doesn’t look like a daily grind; it looks like paradise in your back yard. With plenty of sun and surf, you can throw on your swim suit and work on your tan during your downtime.

 

Turkey

Incirlik Air Base in Turkey stations roughly 4,000 troops. With Adana, the fourth largest city in Turkey, just 40 miles away and the Mediterranean Sea a short 35 mile drive to the south, the members of the 39th Air Base Wing and other Air Force personnel can get a taste of life along the Europe-Asia border.

If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.

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