As one of the largest states in the country — both in population and in total land area — Texas has a plethora of nicknames. From the Lone Star State to the Jumbo State to the Super-American State, Texas is known for its size, grandeur and sheer magnificence. As the old saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas.
But another appropriate nickname for Texas is the Base State. Whether it’s Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio or Fort Bliss located in El Paso, there are lots of military bases to choose from if you’re an active duty service member. If you have a permanent change of station upcoming and you know you’re relocating to Texas, we’ll walk you through some of the more well known bases across the state. You may come to agree that its next nickname ought to be the Base State.
How many military bases are located in Texas?
Given that California is the United States’ largest state by population, it’s no surprise that the Golden State also has the most active installations. Between Edwards Air Force Base, the Army’s Fort Irwin and Naval Base San Diego, all of the service branches are well represented, totaling more than two dozen military bases overall.
Texas has quite a few as well. These include, but aren’t limited to, Fort Bliss, Fort Sam Houston, Laughlin Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Kingsville, Red River Army Depot and Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base. All told, there are 15 active military bases in the Lone Star State.
As with military bases in the other 49 states, those in Texas are used for various purposes aside from being places where military personnel reside. Some are used primarily for enlisted basic military training (i.e. Lackland Air Force Base), while others are known for the kind of training for activities away from the battlefield, such as in medicine (i.e. Fort Sam Houston).
Which branches are most well represented in Texas?
With five, the Air Force has more military bases and installations than any of the other branches. These include:
- Dyess Air Force Base
- Sheppard Air Force Base
- Goodfellow Air Force Base
- Ellington Air Force Base
- Laughlin Air Force Base
These Air Force Bases are fairly evenly spread out from one another, with Dyess located in central Texas and Laughlin in the southwestern portion of the state, bordering Mexico.
The branch with the second-most military bases in Texas is the Army, with four active locations. They are:
- Corpus Christi Army Depot
- Fort Bliss
- Fort Cavazos
- Red River Army Depot
The Coast Guard as well as the Navy have a few locations in the state as well. The only one that doesn’t currently is the Marine Corps.
California, Virginia and Missouri are among the handful of states where all of the branches (not including the Space Force) have active military bases. Most states have at least two branches with base representation, but some only have one or two military bases in total. Wyoming, for example, only has two. Wyoming also has the lowest population and the second-lowest population density.
Military bases around the state by city
In addition to being in the top five of states with the most people, Texas has several of the nation’s largest cities. For example Houston, with 2.3 million residents, is the largest city in Texas and the fourth most populous in the United States. Dallas, meanwhile, is Texas’ third largest city and the fourth-largest metropolitan area when combining it with Fort Worth. Squarely in between these two cities (in population) is San Antonio with 1.4 million residents, making it the seventh-most populous city in the United States.
Thus, regardless of which city you go to, at least one, potentially multiple, Texas military bases will be there. These are a few of them:
Bases in Houston
Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base
Starting out as an Army air strip in 1917, Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base is steeped in history. Firstly, it’s a tribute to a soldier named Lamar Ellington, a pilot in the Army who was tragically killed in a plane crash in southern California. It’s also long served as the home to the 147th Reconnaissance Wing. In tandem with the Air Support Operations Squadron, the Reconnaissance Wing provides a variety of support to service members who are deployed overseas, such as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, air-to-ground munitions and more.
Bases in San Antonio
Lackland Air Force Base
As previously noted, several cities in Texas have multiple military bases. San Antonio is one of those cities, even though it’s not the largest in the state. Part of Joint Base San Antonio, Lackland Air Force Base may be the city’s most well-known, with the possible exception of Fort Sam Houston. Originally part of Kelly Field, Lackland Air Force Base has been around since 1948, approximately three years after World War II ended. It houses several commands, including the 37th Training Wing, 149th Fighter Wing, 59th Medical Wing, 67th Network Warfare Wing, 24th Air Force Wing and nearly six dozen additional units. At any given time, tens of thousands of people are on the base, including 24,000 active duty service members, 11,000 contractors and family members and 10,000 civilians working for the Department of Defense.
Fort Sam Houston
Also part of Joint Base San Antonio is Fort Sam Houston. Sometimes mistaken to be in Houston, given its name, Fort Sam Houston is one of the Army’s oldest installations in the entire country, built nearly 150 years ago in 1876. As with the other installations mentioned above, Fort Sam Houston hosts numerous units on behalf of the Army. A handful include Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command and Army Installation Management Command. It’s also home to the Brooke Army Medical Center and the San Antonio Medical Center.
From a people standpoint , Fort Sam Houston is populated by 36,000 active duty soldiers and DOD civilians, 76,000 retirees and 48,000 military family members.
When paired with Camp Bullis and Randolph Air Force Base, Joint Base spans more than 46,500 acres and 35 million square feet, according to the city’s official website.
Bases in Dallas-Fort Worth area
Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base
Unlike most of the other active military bases in Texas, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base is fairly recent, celebrating its 28th birthday on Oct. 1. Despite its relative newness, however, it’s still historic, given that it’s the United States’ original joint reserve base. Dozens of others have since been built, including some in Texas. Although this isn’t the case for all joint bases, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve hosts training for all of the armed forces, not just the Navy and Coast Guard.
Between guardsmen, reservists, civilian employees and more, NAS JRB contains 10,000 active duty military service members, all of whom participate in the readiness, capability and potential deployment of personnel should the need arise.
Bases in El Paso
It’s appropriate that Fort Bliss is located in Texas, given the state’s association with general largeness. In addition to being the largest installation in FORSCOM (Army Forces Command), Fort Bliss is the second largest in all of the Army. It’s also quite historic, honoring the son-in-law of former President Zachary Taylor. The base’s namesake, William Wallace Smith Bliss, was an Army officer who taught at West Point as a mathematics professor, but died in his late 30s after contracting yellow fever.
Tracing back to before the Civil War, Fort Bliss is older than the state itself and hosts several commands in the Army. Some of the more well known are the 1st Armored Division, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command and Joint Modernization Command and 93d Military Police Battalion.
If you know your next station is in this part of the country or you’re just visiting, there’s lots to see, experience and explore at these and all the other Texas military bases. And if you’ll be at Fort Bliss, consider stopping by our offices near to the installation if you’re in need of a military loan, which we specialize in at Omni Financial. Otherwise, contact us online or apply now.
The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only.