From the end of World War II in 1945 to the late 1980s, the United States maintained a large standing army, positioned in various strategic locations around the globe. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States reconsidered the need for such a large force and started closing military bases in the continental states and abroad. The number of active duty troops dropped substantially. At virtually the same time, U.S. forces became involved in a number of overseas hostilities, from Haiti and Somalia to operations in Europe and the Persian (or Arab) Gulf. These conflicts placed stress on the reduced-size armed forces. Increasing the pressure exponentially was the Global War on Terror, which followed from the attacks on the World Trade Center ...

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