Protecting our freedoms.

Given Washington State’s strategic importance in U.S. defense and global peacekeeping operations today, it should come as no surprise that the first European explorers to reach this part of the world — and even name many of its bays, waterways and features — were soldiers and sailors.

Tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars flow into the state’s economy from the military and defense sector. Washington has six active-duty military installations as well as a major homeland security installation, two Department of Energy facilities, and two world-class universities performing defense-related research within its borders.

Washington is 6th in the nation in the number of active-duty military, with 55,155 military personnel and another 90,246 dependents and 11,366 reservists. The military and defense sector employs another 31,306 civilians, mostly at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS).

Washington is vital to U.S. defense policies for many reasons. The state’s deep water ports, strategically located airports, proximity to the Pacific Rim and integrated rail and road system, as well as a pro-military civilian population, allow the various branches to meet their mission needs with tremendous flexibility and collaboration.

Washington is indeed unique. JBLM is the largest joint base west of the Rockies and the most requested separation duty station in the U.S. Army. The state hosts the only Navy station that has an airfield, strategic weapons facility and shipyard in the same vicinity and PSNS has the only dry dock on the west coast capable of handling Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. Washington’s Coast Guard base supports homeland security in four states and patrols the entire Pacific Ocean – all 460,000 miles of it.


Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Naval Base Kitsap

Naval Air Station Whidbey

Naval Station Everett

Fairchild Air Base

National Guard/Camp Murray

UW National Applied Physics Lab

DOE HaMMER Facility

DOE Puget Sound National Lab


86,000 + 324,000 at the Yakima Complex
4,511 & 500,000 SERE Training

Economic Impact

$6.1 billion
$6.1 billion
$5.92 billion
$4.75 billion
$4.61 billion
$519 million
$67 million

$1.2 billion

Businesses that serve the military and defense sector will find plenty of opportunities in Washington State, including those in energy, biofuels, ICT, cybersecurity, life sciences and aerospace/UAS technology. Approximately 2,000 businesses provide support to the military and defense sector. In the last three years, state businesses were awarded nearly $15 billion in contracts. Some of the largest military contractors are already located in Washington: Boeing, Insitu, Vigor Industries, Dakota Creek Industries, Microsoft, BP PLC, Manson Construction and The Geo Group.

The state’s goal going forward is to strike a balance between the federal government’s need to restructure strategically while reaffirming Washington’s important role in achieving that vision. Given the shift in world political and military might, west coast bases will become even more important in the years to come. It’s the state’s goal to ensure that the military and defense sector continues to contribute to our economy.

Got a question?

As your partner in the military and defense sector, the Department of Commerce’s Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness is ready to help you identify contracting opportunities, find new partners, ensure that your workforce has the latest skills, including military veterans, and position you for success in the military and defense sector in Washington State.

Give us a call at (206) 256-6100 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.