Talk:Proposed features/Military bases

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This page was to be named Military base, but it clashed with an abandoned proposal from 2009 for Military areas, so my proposal shows "base", while the page shows "bases".

Discussion on the mailing list ( re my other current proposal ( to deprecate both emergency= & amenity=coast_guard, has shown that we have no way of distinguishing which branch of Military service occupies any particular Base.

While preparing this proposal, I have also realised that the most common usage, landuse=military + military=barracks is actually wrong, in that it is usually being used to show the entire area of a military base (quarters, messes, parade grounds, workshops, armoury etc) as "barracks" when that is the term for the actual quarters in which Military personnel live & sleep only:

That currently has ~9000 uses so not much that can be done about it, but it would be good to start getting things right from here on!


As part of the proposal I have said that each base should have it's name & operator listed.

From discussions, Operator should be the branch of service eg Australian Army, United States Air Force; with the name spelt out in full, not abbreviated eg USAF.

All comments welcome! --Fizzie41 (talk) 00:00, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

A question that's just come to mind after answering one of the voting comments, that I'll put out for further comment.
I've just mentioned that something would be tagged with military_service=German Army. Should it be German Army or Deutsches Heer? --Fizzie41 (talk) 00:06, 16 January 2021 (UTC)

Joint bases

Great idea! Thanks for proposing this.

You should add some tagging guidance for:

--ZeLonewolf (talk) 01:19, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

    • Assuming it gets through, I was going to include them as I created new pages! I thought reference to the current 5 or so was enough now.
Although you appear to have considered joint bases in this discussion, the proposal itself does not allow for them. This could easily be done by explicitly permitting a semicolon-separated list of services. Also, the proposal states that base=* is mandatory but that prevents the mapping of military bases where the service is unknown (unlikely, but possible). --Brian de Ford (talk) 12:09, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
I have mentioned =joint_forces & that the list is not definitive. As above, details of what base is what would be covered when each page is created. Semi-colon separated lists could work, although I must admit to not liking them myself, but I thought they then created issues when searching? As for "unknown" bases, yes, they would be possible (but also unlikely), so that could be covered by base=yes / unknown --Fizzie41 (talk) 21:51, 9 December 2020 (UTC)

Combination with admin_level

I would suggest that base=* could be combined with admin_level=* to indicate the level of government associated with a base, as there are both international and subnational military installations.

For example:

--ZeLonewolf (talk) 01:19, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

I guess it would be do-able, but I think that it may be a bit too complicated? Would people start wondering if it's an Army Admin level 4, opposed to an Air Force level 2? I think it would probably be easier to cover that by operator: base=air_force + operator=New York Air National Guard. Would that cover it? --Fizzie41 (talk) 02:24, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
admin_level=* has very specific meaning as indicating an entity in the administrative hierarchy (country, province, state, city/town, etc) and would not be confused with some other hierarchy. Using operator=* is good and should be included, but the use of admin_level=4 actually associates it with the government entity relation New York which encloses the base in a way that can be understood by data consumers. Otherwise, a data consumer would have to take the string value of operator=* and guess at what it is describing. If I wanted to make a list of New York National Guard bases, as a data consumer I should not have to guess at the various text versions of operator=* that a mapper might have tagged; instead I should be able to query for base=* + admin_level=4 within New York. What I am describing is identical to how the approved tag government=* is also used in conjunction with admin_level=* --ZeLonewolf (talk) 02:42, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
Fair enough! (& thank you for explaining it so clearly - that's me thinking just as a mapper again, & not a data consumer!) --Fizzie41 (talk) 02:54, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
Thinking about this some more. I know all military / para-military forces in Australia are under Federal control, I know the same things applies in New Zealand & the UK (despite having such units as the Welsh, & Scots, Guards, & other units still named for the County they are based / raised in, they are all controlled by, & answer to, Whitehall). I also know that the US does have State-controlled forces eg National Guard. Are there any / many other countries around the World that have military forces that answer to their state / region / county (anything lower than Admin level 2), & not their "Federal" Government?
Done --Fizzie41 (talk) 23:09, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
See:  Self-Defense_Forces_(NES_regions),  Militia. Also consider political entities like relation Iraqi Kurdistan which is an admin_level=3 entity within relation Iraq. --ZeLonewolf (talk) 17:01, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

How would you tag the branch of the military using a military=barracks?

This proposal covers military=base but does not appear to consider tags like military=barracks If there were a barracks which is not inside of a military=base area, how would it be tagged? --Jeisenbe (talk) 07:06, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

    • I did mention that =barracks should only be used for the actual building/s that troops live & sleep in, not the entire area of the base. I can say that I've seen the inside of quite a few military bases, & must say that I've never seen an actual barracks just sitting by itself, without being on the grounds of a base of some form? But if there was, I can't see any reason why you couldn't just tag that individual building as a military=barracks but still + base=army (or whichever branch it may be). --Fizzie41 (talk) 07:22, 8 December 2020 (UTC)
    • I think the proposal should mention military bases that have "barracks" in the name, such as node Schofield Barracks, so that there isn't confusion on how to tag such places. --ZeLonewolf (talk) 16:42, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

Formally deprecate protect_class=25

The tag protect_class=25 was once proposed for the tagging of military areas. It's been almost completely replaced with landuse=military and we've got it documented on the wiki that way, but in order to tie up all loose ends, it would be good to have this proposal also formally deprecate protect_class=25 since we're on the subject! --ZeLonewolf (talk) 16:46, 8 December 2020 (UTC)

Notice concerning France

Having mapped a lot of military areas, I approve of this scheme which is much more readable. In France we have 3 armed forces: army, navy and air force. We can add the national gendarmerie, but it is a bit of a special case. I know that there is a Franco-German military brigade in France, so I appreciate the tag base=joint_forces.
Concerning cost_guard, we won't use it because we don't have a coastguard as such.


There will always be edge cases, such as that was mentioned against the Coast Guard proposal. From reading that page, they are armed (even if only with sidearms) & carry out Border Protection & customs enforcement roles, so I'd consider them as an armed force under these proposals, so would map them as a military=base + base=coast_guard. I'll openly admit to not knowing enough about the Gendarmerie to call them one thing or another, although I was explicitly disregarding normal "Police" forces from this proposal.

Globally the problem at the global level is to find tags that go to all situations concerning regalian missions. It is necessary to see by which side we approach the problem: is it the mission that is important or the status of the personnel of this mission?
In each country the situation is different. It is not simple. Gendy54 (talk) 23:15, 10 December 2020 (UTC)

The Franco-German one would need a little thought? For joint forces, I was really thinking Army & Air Force sharing the Base in more or less equal numbers, rather than two countries. It may still work as "joint" or it could be called "international", although seeing that it is only (?) an Army base, base=army should still work as well? --Fizzie41 (talk) 22:04, 9 December 2020 (UTC)

Franco-German unity is a very special case I don't think it's useful to say anything about it. Gendy54 (talk) 23:15, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
The term for multiple services, i.e. navy + army, is "joint". The term for multiple countries is "combined" (or coalition, if there is a treaty). These are independent characteristics. A base could be combined (navy base for two countries' navies), joint (army + navy base), or both combined and joint. Whether or not a base is combined or national should be covered by the use of admin_level=1 vs admin_level=2. I would support the addition of a tag like military_treaty=* to hold the name of the treaty (e.g. "NATO") that governs a combined base. The entirely separate question of whether it is joint or dedicated to one service should be handled by the proposed military_service=*. --ZeLonewolf (talk) 01:51, 11 December 2020 (UTC)
We shouldn't use admin_level=1 with NATO military bases, because NATO is not an admin_level=1 feature. Only the European Union currently qualifies for this admin level. --Jeisenbe (talk) 14:29, 11 December 2020 (UTC)
That's a good point. admin_level=* should correspond with actual places tagged boundary=protected_area. Should we use admin_level=* only where it applies, and perhaps something else for things like a NATO base? Or some other scheme entirely that is analagous to the way heritage=* is used? --ZeLonewolf (talk) 04:09, 12 December 2020 (UTC)
Maybe it's something that we can think about while we've got the opportunity? How about & in particular:

Wouldn't those particular bases be Admin level 1? & how about bases for UN Forces?

I'm not against military_treaty=*, but I think operator=* can just do the job. Then there is no need to add admin_level=* that is not really appropriate in this type of situation. Gendy54 (talk) 20:01, 12 December 2020 (UTC)
How would you tag an example such as  Ramstein Air Base? Operated by the USA, but also a NATO base, and admin_level=2 would be wrong as it is not a  German Air Force base. --ZeLonewolf (talk) 20:22, 12 December 2020 (UTC)

Base is vague

"Base" can have different meanings in different contexts. At some future point we might regret having defined base=* to mean military bases. Maybe military_base=*. --Brian de Ford (talk) 12:12, 9 December 2020 (UTC)

Yes, it can, but I don't think there'd be much chance of confusion between a military base & any other definition of the word? Military_base could also work, but it would look a bit awkward: landuse=military + military=military_base + military_base=xxx --Fizzie41 (talk) 22:13, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
Can you clarify the other types of bases that would cause us to regret this definition in the future? Is this purely a hypothetical, or is there an example you're thinking of? --ZeLonewolf (talk) 22:49, 9 December 2020 (UTC)
I agree, and this can be easily fixed by changing the key to describe what we are actually specifying: "What military service branch is using this feature?" So I suggest military_branch=* or military_service=* (though this is based on my US English understanding of the military terminology. Do they call them "military service branches" in British English too?). This would also solve the issue of using base=army + military=office or military=baracks which would otherwise seem odd. --Jeisenbe (talk) 07:10, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
Thinking in NATO terms, we might also consider tagging them by service component, e.g. land, air, maritime, ground, special_operations, transportation, logistics, and perhaps also cyber and amphibious. This avoids the oddities in various international ways of structuring their services, for example, China's Navy is a part of their Army. --ZeLonewolf (talk) 15:33, 10 December 2020 (UTC)

A few variations: Military Service or Branches of Military Service come to mind, but not really Military Branches.
Were you thinking: landuse=military + military=base + service=xxx? That could well work. --Fizzie41 (talk) 07:26, 10 December 2020 (UTC)

I was thinking landuse=military + military=base + military_service=* because the key service=* is already used for several different things, and because the phrase "military service" is a clearer term. This could also be used with other combinations, e.g.: military=office + military_service=*. --Jeisenbe (talk) 17:14, 10 December 2020 (UTC)

Thanks! Yes, after thinking about it overnight, I agree with you, so have changed base= to military_service= --Fizzie41 (talk) 20:45, 10 December 2020 (UTC)

ok with military_service. I think tag military_service tag should stay on the 3-4 components of the army: land, sea, air, cyber to avoid the pitfalls of a tag like army_type because each military unit ultimately relates to one of the 3 components. Gendy54 (talk) 23:10, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
Are you across the ongoing discussions on the Tagging list: Sorry, but I haven't been transferring them all from one place across to the other --Fizzie41 (talk) 23:46, 10 December 2020 (UTC)
Yes, I've read all the discussions on tagging but I prefer to participate on the wiki ;) Gendy54 (talk) 20:37, 12 December 2020 (UTC)

What does military=base mean?

So far the proposal lacks a definition of the new proposed tag military=base

The closest we get is "military=base for the area of each military establishment" but that makes it sound like almost any kind of landuse=military could have the military=base tag added. How should military=base be defined? When should it not be used? --Jeisenbe (talk) 02:08, 18 December 2020 (UTC)

Thanks. Yes, it should have a definition. How about:

"A base is the (almost invariably) enclosed area where a military establishment is located: It will include a variety of buildings, facilities etc in the area, & may be used by different branches of Military Service eg Army, Air Force. However, they are different to a military=training_area, as that is where field training, as opposed to classroom, takes place."

Definition updated from
A military base is a facility, directly owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches, that shelters military ::equipment and personnel, and facilitates training and operations.

Yes, landuse=military will be a required tag, together with military=base --Fizzie41 (talk) 02:35, 18 December 2020 (UTC)

I agree with Wikipedia's definition and recommend we come as close as possible to that. --ZeLonewolf (talk) 02:41, 18 December 2020 (UTC)

Done! Do we need any further than that? --Fizzie41 (talk) 03:20, 18 December 2020 (UTC)

Looks good to me! --ZeLonewolf (talk) 04:08, 18 December 2020 (UTC)

Remove claim that not respecting mapping ban is against OSM rules

"As always, if it is illegal in your country to map military establishments, please do not do so! " should be removed.

It is not against OSM rules, for example mapping military bases in China is against Chinese law (like mapping anything at all in China), but it is not against OSM rules.

Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 07:43, 20 December 2020 (UTC)

Maybe "Note that mapping of military establishments is illegal in some countries - and while mapping them is not against any OSM rules, you may have problems with your government"? Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 07:44, 20 December 2020 (UTC)
Agree, something like this is better, it's warning mappers to take care not to break the law themselves, while still saying it's fine for foreigners to map your own countries military infrastructure. --Aharvey (talk) 06:02, 22 December 2020 (UTC)

I tend to agree, tagging proposal shouldn't tell mappers how to map, it should be focused on what tags mean. There is already an adequate disclaimer on landuse=military that can be copied over when the page is created. This helps avoid a debate over the legality of mapping military areas and instead focuses on tagging definitions --ZeLonewolf (talk) 20:27, 20 December 2020 (UTC)

There are various wordings of the "Take Care" warnings on different military pages eg military=*. I did mention earlier that the :: military page needs a clean-up. When we do that, it would be an ideal time to decide on a standard "warning" to go on all related pages --Fizzie41 (talk) 22:58, 20 December 2020 (UTC)
That's a great idea, and we should create a template so that it's the same everywhere. It's a separate discussion and may be more appropriate for the talk list rather than tagging. I don't think it's something that needs a proposal to fix. --ZeLonewolf (talk) 23:15, 20 December 2020 (UTC)
  • Note: further interesting discussion happened at talk and legal talk mailing lists Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 22:19, 25 December 2020 (UTC)
I couldn't see anything directly related in the Talk archives? --Fizzie41 (talk) 22:46, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

Thanks! --Fizzie41 (talk) 23:04, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

Copied from Tagging list:
In the interest of moving this proposal forward, I am happy to modify the wording to follow Mateusz's suggestion:
"Mapping military installations is not against OSM rules. Note that some countries may prohibit mapping of military installations and

take action against those doing so, even if the mapper is not in that country.  You are advised to check before mapping a military installation if doing so might put you at risk."

Is this acceptable to everybody?
& do you all also accept that if / when the LWG comes back with a definitive response, that it be changed to their wording, or completely deleted if applicable?

--Fizzie41 (talk) 05:59, 30 December 2020 (UTC)

For obvious reasons I am fine with that text. I reserve right to disagree with LWG if they will make something weird not based on anything (similarly to their claim about mobile attribution) Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 07:29, 30 December 2020 (UTC)

"Warning" has now been struck out from proposal to be the subject of further discussion at a later date --Fizzie41 (talk) 00:09, 2 January 2021 (UTC)


Note that

Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 11:27, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

I would recommend skipping that and mention at most that buildings are tagged as usual. Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 11:28, 25 December 2020 (UTC)
Yes, if you can identify what the purpose of that building is, then use a specific tag. I originally had it just as building=yes to cover those rare cases when you may find a military building sitting by itself, without any form of perimeter fencing (if there's a fenced area, it will become landuse=military etc), but then found building=military. There have been other comments made about specifying things as closely as possible for data purposes, so I think building=military would be better than just building=yes --Fizzie41 (talk) 21:21, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

Security considerations

Earlier, I did mention this, but didn't get any response:

"with regard to =barracks (& some of the other military= tags), I'm finding myself partially in agreement with the "Don't map anything military" theory! I still think it's fine to map the area & say that this is Edwards Air Force Base, but I'm wondering if we really need to, or should, map interior details to say that this building is the Officers Mess, these are the Enlisted Quarters & this is the Armoury? (using the definition of the place where weapons & ammunition are stored)"

What are all your thoughts? Should we map with as much detail as possible (or at least as much as a civilian can determine from outside the Base!), or just have the area of a Base filled with anonymous buildings, except for those few that may have public access eg museums, memorials etc? --Fizzie41 (talk) 21:32, 25 December 2020 (UTC)

Airbases tagged with military=airfield

Sorry for writing so late, but I just noticed that many airbases are currently tagged with military=airfield and to me it seems unclear, how this tag would be used in the future.--TOGA (talk) 13:37, 2 January 2021 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing that out. It would probably depend on the actual situation? If all you have is an airfield by itself (together with all it's supporting infrastructure, naturally), it could still be tagged as

landuse=military + military=airfield + military_service=xxx Alternatively, or if the airfield is a part of a much bigger area eg Schofield Barracks, then the full area would be Landuse=military + military=base, while the area of the airfield itself, ie inside the perimeter road / fence would also be tagged as military=airfield --Fizzie41 (talk) 02:08, 3 January 2021 (UTC)

Sounds sensible, of course this might lead to confusion in cases, where an airfield is called airbase, but there is no infrastructure, that warrants military=base. But that's probably a minor issue.--TOGA (talk) 22:06, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

The actual name of the Base shouldn't effect anything, as mentioned with regard to Army Bases called "xxx Barracks". Even if it's a completely "Bare Bones" airfield, there will almost invariably still be at least a perimeter fence to map the boundaries of the Base. --Fizzie41 (talk) 07:17, 8 January 2021 (UTC)

Possible Duplication

From voting comments.

"Why not tag directly military=army/navy/air_force/marines/... ?"

Yes, it could be done that way, but that would also mean a lot more top-level tags. This proposal tidies the top level. --Fizzie41 (talk) 22:52, 13 January 2021 (UTC)

Danger Area

From voting comments.

"Shooting ranges already have the military=danger_area tag and would not fall under this scheme."

Training & Danger Areas don't come under this proposal at all - they'll be covered under the next part of a clean-up! :-) --Fizzie41 (talk) 22:55, 13 January 2021 (UTC)

Base v landuse

From voting comments.

"is it going to be added to every landuse=military?"

Not necessarily, depending on what is on the ground. landuse=military covers everything that belongs to the military, be it training areas, weapons ranges, ammunition dumps, base areas & even minefields! military=base will be the area of buildings where military personnel work & live, equipment is stored / maintained etc. A base could be a small corner of a training area, it could be a large area by itself, or it could be a small building in the suburbs of a city. --Fizzie41 (talk) 23:02, 13 January 2021 (UTC)

So for example military polygon is not considered as "facility" and therefore is not a "base"? Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 08:06, 14 January 2021 (UTC)
Besides danger_area features, what else will be excluded? Are all military airfields "bases?" Are weapon storage depots? What about training areas which do not have buildings or barracks but which have enclosed obstacle courses or firing ranges? What about military offices in a city which do not have barracks - is the Pentagon a "base?"--Jeisenbe (talk) 21:30, 14 January 2021 (UTC)

It would depend on what you mean by "military polygon"?
As mentioned above about airfields, they could be a base by themselves, or the actual air operations part of the base (ie inside the perimeter fence) could remain as military=airfield, while outside the fence is =base.
Weapons storage would be a base, training areas would remain as military=training_area, possibly with a =base contained within it's area, if there are permanent facilities (eg staff quarters, maintenance facilities, mess etc) there. One off buildings such as your mentioned obstacle course or firing range would only be a military=building. As mentioned "For individual military offices in a non-military location eg recruitment offices in a commercial area, place a node on it's location & tag as: office=military + military_service=*". The Pentagon is an interesting one in that it is a Base that is also a building. The entire area of the grounds would be tagged landuse=military + military=base + military_service=joint + name=The Pentagon, with the building itself being also tagged as building=military as a multipolygon! --Fizzie41 (talk) 23:19, 14 January 2021 (UTC)

Well, I don't want to see the Pentago tagged as a "base" because it is simply an office building. In fact, right now it isn't even tagged as landuse=military surprisingyl: - I don't think that all military offices should be bases. If a base had a set of required features then I could support this tag: 1) barracks or other residences / overnight accomodations for military members 2) used as a "base" of operations for a military unit 3) the base should only include the developed area, not inluding firing ranges, undeveloped training areas, large weapons storage depots, etc. --Jeisenbe (talk) 04:51, 15 January 2021 (UTC)

Sorry, but it certainly should be a base, together with military=building & probably even military=office. Going through your other points:
1. That requirement would automatically mean that all "Army Reserve" depots would be eliminated, as part-time / volunteer forces don't often sleep at their depots, & when they do, there is no actual sleeping accomodation - you get to spread your sleeping bag out on a nice comfortable patch of floor!
2. That's right - a base of operations is where troops live, train & store equipment
3. Correct, only the developed area is part of the "base", although the base may still also include various weapons ranges. However, storage depots are still a base. --Fizzie41 (talk) 00:25, 16 January 2021 (UTC)

Military cadets

Would this be used for military cadet "bases" as well, or just "regular" service bases? Some cadet branches are located within in "traditional" military bases, so would obviously be covered but others have their own stand-alone "bases". This is particularly true where the cadets aren't yet properly enlisted and are more like youth clubs (e.g. the UK's Combined Cadet Force). Casey boy (talk) 09:51, 14 January 2021 (UTC)

  • In a word, no. Cadet units (as in youth groups learning broadly-military related subjects eg Army Cadets, Air Force Cadets) will be the subject of a further proposal at a later date, but as they are not "military" units as such, they won't be mapped under this tag. --Fizzie41 (talk) 23:35, 14 January 2021 (UTC)

Voting Results

Voting closed with a result of 18 yes, 6 no = 75% approval, so proposal accepted.

Thank you all for your support & valuable comments. Those who expressed concerns, please don't worry, I will be taking them into consideration during clean-up & creating the actual page.

I thing with regard to the vote did concern me though.

I noticed that two of the No votes came from people with no User or Talk pages (& yes, I know they aren't required - I only created my own a few weeks ago!), however, it also appears that neither of these people have ever mapped in OSM?

I'll raise this matter for further discussion on the tag list

--Fizzie41 (talk) 23:39, 16 January 2021 (UTC)