The Biden administration in February launched a review of the U.S. military’s global presence to ensure it “is correctly sized and supports strategy.”

That review, set to finish by mid-year, comes as the administration balances ongoing military obligations with its focus on China as “the pacing challenge.”

The result may be a reduction of the sprawling network of U.S. bases overseas, which activists, lawmakers, and even the U.S.’s top military officer say is warranted.

The Pentagon operates about 800 such bases, from outposts with a few dozen troops to massive hubs housing thousands of personnel and their families.

Army Special Forces Al Tanf Syria
U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers at the Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria, November 22, 2017.  (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Jacob Connor)

That presence is largely “derivative of where World War II ended,” Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a U.S. Naval Institute event in December.

“Some of those bases are in fact the frontline trace of where we were at the end of the war… and all the things that developed during the Cold War,” Milley added.

The U.S. had about 2,000 bases at the end of World War II, according to Daniel Immerwahr, a historian who has written extensively about U.S. overseas territory.

Rather than hold onto swaths of land, as ascendant empires had in the past, the U.S. adopted “a different model” and retained “dots, not large populated annexed lands,” Immerwahr told Insider in late 2020.