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The United States Army has been a functioning entity for nearly 240 years and throughout those years has faced changing military threats. We focus here on when, where, and why military installations, primarily those of the Army, were created and placed on the landscape, and we examine some of the ways in which their situation changed as the country shifted from a domestic protection stance to a more internationalist projection-oriented operational philosophy. The 1790s, the 1890s, and the 1990s each presented challenges—but of very different types. Were we responding to external or internal threats? What were the needs of the era? Were they focused on materiel production, on leadership and training, on protecting our coastlines, on protecting travel routes within the country, or on preparing to project force hundreds or thousands of miles outside the United States?

At one time, one or more of these differing concerns were the driving reasons behind the establishment of a military installation. The current “landscape” of installations reflects a response to these differing threats across our entire nation’s history. This is why the U.S. Defense Department has recently been reviewing the inventory of military bases, to determine if they are all still relevant and useful. Do we now have too many or too few installations? Or, are they in the wrong place to answer the current and emerging threats? Finally, what happens when an installation is believed to no longer be needed? When and how may an installation be converted to another life?

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