U.S. Military Occupations: 1898 to 2004

1898-1902: Cuba
Victory in the Spanish-American War of 1898 left the U.S. in possession of Spain’s last major Caribbean colony. After independence in 1902, Washington sent troops back well into the 1930s, when Fulgencio Batista seized power. The U.S. helped keep him there until Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959.

1898-1946: Philippines
Washington governed the Philippines as a province from the end of the Spanish-American war until 1946. A hefty garrison force fought a bloody conflict with pro-independence Filipino rebels. By the time Japan conquered the Philippines in 1942, however, a path toward independence already had been agreed. After independence in 1946, U.S. troops remained on two large bases leased from Manila until 1999.

1904-1999: Panama
Washington won rights in perpetuity to the territory around the Panama Canal after helping locals secede from Colombia. In 1999, the canal and adjacent territory were turned over to local sovereignty and the county currently is a functioning democracy.

1905-1924: Dominican Republic
U.S. Marines intervened and occupied this nation on the eastern side of Hispanola after European states hinted they would intervene to stave off the nation’s bankruptcy. American troops left in 1924, but the U.S. Treasury controlled the country’s finances until 1941. In 1965, Marines imposed a new pro-American government. True democratization failed to take root until the mid-1970s. Today, the country is a functioning democracy.

1912-1925: Nicaragua
American Marines ruled Nicaragua for 13 years beginning in 1912, fighting nationalist rebels before leaving in 1925. They returned in 1928 to fight a new rebel leader, Augusto Sandino. The U.S. withdrew in 1934, leaving Anastasio Somoza in charge. Somoza ruled as U.S.-based dictator until his overthrow by Soviet-inspired Sandinista guerrillas in 1979. A CIA-based war against them ended in 1989, when free elections forced the Sandinista regime out of power.

1915-1934: Haiti
U.S. Marines entered Haiti in 1915 after a mob killed the Haitian ruler. Some 20,000 American troops stayed there, running the country via military administration, until 1934. The Marines left power in the hands of Haiti’s national guard, which, in turn, installed the brutal Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier into power. He and his son Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier ruled until 1986, when Baby Doc fled to Paris.

1945-1952: Japan
Gen. Douglas MacArthur sat as military governor of Japan between 1945-1949. By absolving Emperor Hirohito of his wartime guilt, MacArthur successfully blunted opposition to the democratization of Japan, most notably the drafting of a new constitution that foreswore war and established electoral laws. In April, 1952, a peace treaty took effect and the Allied occupation ended.

1945-54: Germany
The four victorious Allied powers occupied sectors of German territory and quadrants of its capital city, Berlin. The occupation quickly broke down into rival Western vs. Soviet zones. De-Nazification and Marshal Plan aid began to transform Western Germany by the early 1950s, and in 1954 it emerged as the independent West German state.

1945-1948: South Korea
The defeat of Japan left Korea, a Japanese colony, split between U.S. and Soviet control. The U.S. military governed the southern part of the peninsula until 1948, when elections established the Republic of Korea. U.S. forces remained, however, when the Soviet-backed north refused to hold elections. In 1950, North Korea attacked and war raged until 1953. U.S. forces (some 38,000) have stayed ever since.

1945-1955: Austria
As in Germany, Austria (which had been annexed by the Germans in 1938) was split between victorious powers. Austria’s status remained unclear for a decade until a treaty ended the occupation, recognized independence and forbade unification with Germany.

1965-73: South Vietnam
When communist guerillas defeated French efforts to reestablish its Indochina colony in 1953, the U.S. stepped in to back the anti-communist Vietnamese government. Drawn progressively into the maelstrom, Washington formally landed combat troops in 1965, their numbers topping out at 500,000 in 1969. Throughout, the South’s government remained undemocratic and corrupt. The U.S. pulled out in 1973, and the South was overrun by communist North Vietnamese troops in 1975.

1983-84: Grenada
U.S. troops landed on this tiny Caribbean island, citing the arrival of Cuban military advisers and the threat they allegedly posed to American medical students studying there. After a short battle, U.S. troops took control of the island, deposed its left-leaning military council and organized free elections before leaving in 1984. The country is now a functioning democracy.

1994-99: Haiti
When the Duvalier dictatorships ended in 1986, the Haitian military took direct control of the country. An election in 1993 quickly led to a coup, which in turn caused the U.S. to threaten invasion. The threat forced the generals into exile, restoring the ousted president, Jean-Bertrande Aristide. U.S. and other international forces patrolled the country until 1999.

1995-present: Bosnia-Hercegovina
The collapse of Yugoslavia beginning in 1990 led to civil war in its most ethnically diverse republic, Bosnia-Hercegovina. European-led U.N. force tried to restore order but failed. In 1995, after years of steering clear, the U.S. intervened and imposed a peace treaty that included a NATO-led occupation of the fractured state. Some 6,000 U.S. troops are still there, along with 40,000 other forces, in 2003.

1999-present: Kosovo
Repression by Serbia in ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo spiraled into civil war in 1999, and the U.S. led a NATO invasion of the country to force an end to Serb efforts to deport the Albanian population. Some 60,000 U.S., British, French and German troops occupied Kosovo after the war, and a force about half that size remained in place in 2003.

2002-present: Afghanistan
A coalition campaign resulted in the toppling of the Taliban government who had harbored al-Qaida leaders and fighters. In early 2003, some 9,000 U.S. forces remained in and around Afghanistan, many engaged in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

2003 – 2011: Iraq

A coalition campaign resulted in the removal of dictator, Saddam Hussein.