To pick where a military base goes has to be an easy job. Putting a military base in a place where there’s fighting is a no-brainer. But sometimes you find these bases on tiny islands that can’t be seen, even when you zoom in entirely on Google Maps and have no civilization for miles around. Why they put bases is there is a mystery. Here are ten of the most remote military bases. Seriously, we feel bad for the guys deployed there; they must have huge balls to survive.
10. Shemya Island
Shemya Island is a teeny weeny outpost off the southern coast of Alaska. It’s about two miles wide and four miles long, which is good news if you hate driving. The weather over at Shemya stays at a constant 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s not that bad. However, there is constant fog year-round so good luck trying to soak up some sun. The base was established during the Cold War to watch for any suspicious Soviet satellite launches, and kind of just stuck around. Nowadays, it houses a United States Air Force radar, surveillance and weather station, and aircraft refueling station.
9. Andersen Air Force Base
Andersen Air Base was a huge deal back in the 70’s, when it was one of the army’s most crucial FOBs (forward operating bases). The base dealt with massive attacks, but also was the go to place for ammo and backup. It was one of the United States’ largest bases in Northern Guam. Today, not much happens there except some re-fueling and ammunition stockpiling. The base gained some attention when it served as the emergency landing strip for the Space Shuttle orbiter.
8. Base at Diego Garcia
With its awesome sounding name, Diego Garcia is a tiny little atoll in the Indian Ocean. The army has had a base there since the Cold War, mostly so that it can be mobilized in case anything happens in Iran. Today, it’s used as an ammo center for the offensive in Afghanistan. The base is held by the Navy, and often holds training exercises for new soldiers and the surrounding (mostly Indian) natives. Although the island is fairly tropical, seasonal monsoons ensure that troops always carry an umbrella.
7. Kunsan Air Base
Kunsan Air Base is located in South Korea, and plays host to both the 8th Fighter Wing of the US Air Force, and the 38th Air Fighter Group of the Korean Air Force. Our presence there is really just a precaution, in case North Korea ever decides it’s had enough of that Southern crap. The base was established during World War II, but was used primarily during the Korean War. Then it hosted multiple fighter-bomber groups, infantrymen, air wings, and basically everything needed to fight the war. Civilization-wise, it isn’t entirely cut off from people, but it is located far away from any other American base.
6. Korengal Valley, Afghanistan
As part of our work in Afghanistan, America has a number of secret military outposts, in remote desert areas, to keep an eye on the Taliban. One of those is the base at Korengal, which was recently vacated so that the troops could be used elsewhere. Surrounded by mountains, Korengal has become known as “Enemy Central”, because of the number of attacks on the base. In its history, the base has lost 40 soldiers, including a gruesome surprise attack on a helicopter that claimed 16 men. Since we weren’t making any headway there, General McChrystal moved the troops out of there, and into a village where they could protect civilians.
5. Pine Gap
It’s common knowledge that 90% of the animals in Australia are venomous, which is why a remote outpost in the Outback doesn’t sound very attractive. Pine Gap used to be primarily an Australian base but then, in 2002, the US Army set up operation and converted the base into a satellite tracking station. It’s historically famous for basically being the Australian version of Area 51. Every few months, some rights group or the other marches to it and protests for some Australian issue or the other but, being primarily American, said issue is promptly ignored.
4. Area 51
Speaking of Area 51, nothing takes the mark for secrecy better than the Holy Grail itself. Well, used to is more like it. Area 51 is situated in the middle of Nevada, and is surrounded by miles upon miles of plain desert and the occasional tumbleweed. For the past 50 years, it has been surrounded by mystery, as crazy nuts everywhere have accused it of harboring aliens or alien technology. In late 2011, the base’s primary activities during the 50’s were declassified, aliens included.
Well, that depends on your definition of alien. If by alien, you mean “secret Soviet stuff”, then congrats! You were totally right! Area 51 basically was the bunker that the entire stolen Soviet technology went to for examination. It’s where we found out about fighter jets and the Soviet Nuclear program. The entire base is operated by tunnels underground, where nuclear testing and other secret tests occur. So everyone was right; just replace alien with Russian. Really, what difference is there?
3. Shamsi Air Base
Shamsi Air Base is located in Pakistan, and is occupied by the CIA for its various illegal drone operations. For a long time, no one really knew what was going on in the base, even Pakistan. It was always a sensitive topic at the International Thanksgiving Dinner, probably because Pakistan doesn’t like its property getting blown up by drones every now and then. After Obama upped his status to “Badass in Chief” back in May of 2011, and took down Bin Laden from an affluent Pakistani neighborhood, Pakistan had enough and the base was abandoned.
2. Wake Island
Even the name of this place sounds like the location of a zombie apocalypse video game. Wake Island is administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S Department of the Interior, and an operating US Army base. The Wake Atoll is located about two-thirds of the way between Honolulu, 2,300 statute miles (3,700 km) to the east and Guam, 1,510 statute miles (2,430 km) to the west, it’s technically an atoll because, in addition to being surrounded by water, the center of the island is also water. The place may look like an island paradise, but is routinely battered by tropical storms and high humidity. During World War II, it was the remote outpost that was supposed to keep an eye on Japan, and warn Pearl Harbor if there was to be an attack. The reason it failed at its job is because, before the infamous attack, Wake Island was hit hard by Japanese bombers.
After miraculously holding off wave after wave of attack, they managed to send a warning out (albeit a little late). That wasn’t the end for the military base; the US entering of the war led to many more attacks. One was a surprise attack by the Japanese in 1943 that resulted in the deaths of almost every single soldier on the island. Of the 98 survivors that were rounded up to kill, one escaped and carved “98 US P.W 5-10-43” on a rock, before he too was captured and beheaded. Today, the base is largely untouched, but the rock remains as a memorial to those who died in the attack.
1. Thule Air Base
Thule Air Base is exactly what you would think of when you hear “remote military outpost.” It is the US’s most northern base in the world, being only 947 miles away from the North Pole, in Northern Greenland. It is pretty much always ice and snow and cold and everything else you hate. It doesn’t even have any real purpose. Seriously, the base was established as a measure against the Soviet Union, but has seen about as much action as a 50-year-old virgin. Even today, it’s supposed to warn the US against any missiles, except there haven’t been any (like ever, otherwise we’d be at war in Russia). Its only real purpose is to receive new air cadets, presumably to bet on which ones drop out first.