Wherever you go in this world, you will always find yourself hearing people talk about war. This is because there is always so much international warfare going on, whether it be a threat North Korea makes to the United States about attacking American soil, or Peru against Chile, or any of the Arab countries and the constant threats they are always making toward Israel. The human race does indeed seem to be at odds with each other when it comes to war, and we wonder what this means for our future.
In addition, due to the fact that there are so many armies involved here, we can’t help but wonder who the strongest armies are. We understand that there are many factors to account for, and that comparing armies against one another is not exactly a piece of cake. That being said, we have done our best to compile a list that ranks the best armies in the world, starting from the worst, all the way to whom we believe is the number one army in the world.
There were many different facets we used to determine our results. One of these criterion was of course how big an army is, because sometimes you can’t beat the sheer strength of size. Then of course there is how influential an army was toward their contemporaries, because it shows how innovative and important they were to the military world in the grand scheme of things.
And then of course there is the factor that we had to consider, whether or not an army was well integrated in their region. For instance, many countries in the middle east aren’t very technologically advanced, but due to their strong regional connections, they are a more formidable force because of it. A good example of this the Czech Republic, who may not be known for their strength or military prowess, yet we ranked them in the middle of the list due to their integration with the military of a more powerful country.
There is so much turmoil around in our world today, so it is very important that we assess all of the armies of our various countries, analyzing their strengths as well as their weaknesses. At the end of the day, we all just want us and our families to be safe, and while we may not have that much control where we are sitting, it sometimes helps to have as much information as we can.
The Colombian Army is also referred to as The National Colombian Army and and in fact, it’s the biggest division of what is known as the Colombian Armed Forces. If you break it down there are three sections that make up this long-standing army: the National Army, the Air Force and the Navy. With a population of almost 47 million people, it’s interesting to know that there are 445,000 soldiers who are active in in service. In terms of its equipment, there are over 450 different aircraft and over 230 vessels owned by the navy.
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With more than 7,000 islands forming this large Southeast Asian country, it’s hard to imagine how there would be one army force that serves the entire nation. The Military of the Philippines, which is also known as The Armed Forces of the Philippines, is made up of three divisions: the Philippine Army, the Philippine Air Force, and the Philippine Navy. Currently, there are around 220,000 personnel active at the frontline and and almost double in the reserves.
This pastoral Scandinavian country is not only the southernmost nation of all the Nordic countries, it’s also the smallest. Denmark is bordered with one of the strongest countries in the world, Germany, to the south. Coming in at 39th place on our list, the country has a fairly small army with only 25,000 active personnel. Meanwhile, it’s reserve forces are comprised of 63,000 people. The army only owns 74 air craft, about 60 tanks, and 90 naval vessels.
Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and two very powerful countries (Portugal and France), Spain has always been considered a strong player when it came to its conquering capabilities. That’s why it may come as no surprise that Spain’s military is also somewhat robust. One of its strongest advantages is the country’s proximity and easy access to the ocean. Both men and women serve in the army, and the military is sent on UN peacekeeping missions all over the world.
37. The Netherlands
While the Royal Netherlands Army was officially founded back in 1814, its roots stretch all the way back to 1572 when the first Dutch States Army which joined a revolt to kick out the Spaniards. The military has been in several conflicts since, including several world wars, and even conquered a whole lot of the West and East Indies. Today it serves in UN Peacekeeping missions and with NATO forces in Afghanistan and Syria.
36. North Korea
The North Korean military calls itself the Korean People’s Army. This may sound confusing, but once you realize that the North Koreans view South Korea as occupied territory, it makes more sense. It’s the largest military in the world with over one million soldiers, but for all of its sabre rattling, it’s not the best one on this list. While the North Koreans are able to inflict major damage to their enemies, it’s important to note that their gear is old and probably wouldn’t last more than a few weeks.
Immersed with traditions from the British Army, the Malaysian military is quite strong and very serious. Malaysia is split into two parts divided by the South China Sea, and is one of the countries ensuring the safety of ships traversing the Straits of Malacca – straits through which a quarter of all of the world’s goods are transported. The Malaysian military has 110,000 active duty soldiers with an additional 300,000 in reserve along with one of the stronger navies in the region.
The Austrian Armed Forces is divided into several divisions, including the Joint Forces (made up of the Army and Air Force) as well as special forces. The country used to have a navy comprised of patrol boats which used to patrol up and down the Danube River, but this responsibility was transferred over to the federal police in 2006. The Austrian Armed Forces also sends its soldiers abroad for UN peacekeeping missions.
Believe it or not the peaceful Scandinavian country of Norway actually has a mandatory draft for both men and women. The country’s military seems to be geared more towards defense, especially judging by the limited number of foreign engagements the country is involved in. However, the Norwegian Air Force was involved in the blockade of Libya, taking out Libyan tanks and servicemen in 2011. The Norwegian military also sent troops to help the US invasion of Afghanistan.
32. South Africa
The South African Military as it is now was created after the fall of apartheid in 1994. There are now quotas ensuring that people of all different races are represented equally in the military. While the apartheid military was focused on vanquishing communist rebels, the modern South African Military is highly involved in peacekeeping missions all over the African continent, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and many others.
The Mexican Armed Forces is a military which is based upon a lottery style conscription. The country does not really have a need to try and win wars of defense or offense given its neighbors, but is instead more focused on trying to quell a long running war against cartels and terror groups trying to funnel both people and illegal substances into the United States. The three branches of the military are therefore more interested in keeping these substances out of Mexico than maintaining attack capabilities.
Switzerland is another European country with a conscript military, with all males drafted in order to serve. The country tries to remain neutral in all matters and is very self sufficient militarily. While the Swiss do participate in some peacekeeping missions – such as in the South Korean Demilitarized Zone – the country tries to stay out of international conflicts. Switzerland itself is one big boobytrap, with thousands of hidden artillery pieces and nearly every bridge in the country set with detonation charges in case of attack.
29. Czech Republic
The Czech Armed Forces was formed when the Czech Republic split from Czechoslovakia back in 1994 after the fall of the Soviet Union. The military, consisting of only 25,000 personnel, is quite small as a result of not having many threats to its territorial integrity. However, the country sends out its soldiers on numerous peacekeeping and NATO missions, and can be seen in the Golan Heights, Mali, Iraq, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Afghanistan.
28. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is unique in that it is the only country in the world that has access to the Red Sea as well as the Persian Gulf. This nation is well-funded in terms of its defense, and 25 percent of its budget is spent on military. That amounts to $88 billion! However, the effectiveness of the Saudi military remains to be seen, as despite having the best weapons money can buy, the country has been engaged in a war against a ragtag group of Yemeni rebels for nearly three years.
Algeria is situated in North Africa and has had a tumultuous relationship from the get-go. A strong military tradition was established as a result of a border war between Algeria and Morocco as well as numerous Islamic insurgencies. Algeria has been one of the few countries which escaped the chaos of the Arab Spring (something which neighbors Tunisia and Libya can’t boast about). Today the military carries out anti-terror operations on its own soil, fighting al-Qaeda affiliates and conducting hostage rescues.
The nation of Singapore may be tiny but it packs a powerful punch. The country’s military is a conscript military with over one million in the reserves. Situated at the mouth of the Straits of Malacca, this city state is an essential part of ensuring the safety of world trade, a quarter of which passes through the straits. However, despite a powerful military, the country still relies on deterrence and diplomacy to solve its issues.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine consist of different divisions including Ukrainian Airmobile Forces, the Ukrainian Navy, the Ukrainian Air Force and Ukrainian Ground Forces. Having the powerful country of Russia as their neighbor to the east must have motivated the nation defend itself and be prepared for any attempt to take over its territory. Currently, 160,000 members are serving in the frontline and almost a million people are in the reserves.
Mostly concerned with its own internal issues, Sweden hasn’t really gotten into any international conflicts and has managed to stay away from international threats. The Swedish Air Force as well as the Navy branch has been around in its current form since 1975. They are almost reaching the 10 million mark in terms of its population but only 14,000 of them are active members of the army. However, with regional threats to Sweden’s sovereignty growing, the government is debating expanding the size of the military.
It has been described many times as the “most powerful” military force in the Middle East, although The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran lacks the sophisticated and more modern equipment. Iran has been considered one of the biggest threats in the world a lot due to its constant work towards a nuclear bomb. All branches of the military are under the same command and currently there are around 530,000 active soldiers serving the country. The military has been seen in conflicts all over the Middle East, and supports terror organizations across the globe as well.
Although The Brazilian Army has been involved in many global conflicts, most of them having happened in the South American continent, it hasn’t been threatened nor invaded since the 19th century, 1865 to be exact. Currently, the Brazilian Armed Forces are concerned with border protection as well as preventing the spread and manufacture of illegal substances in its vast territory. It is also responsible for ensuring that the Amazon rainforest is not being illegally logged. They also fight against gangs in the sprawling shantytowns known as favelas.
The Vietnam People’s Armed Forces is formed of three divisions or regimes including the Vietnam People’s Army, Vietnam Civil Defense Force and the Vietnam People’s Public Security. It doesn’t have a separate division for its ground force. In fact, all troops that work on the ground as well as the special forces units, are under the Ministry of Defense and under the command of the Minister of Defense. There are 415,000 active personnel active to defend the country and its territorial waters from encroachment.
The exotic Southeast Asian country is mostly associated with travel and freedom, so it’s hard to imagine they would have their own armed forces. The Thai Amy is consisted of the Royal Thai Army, the Royal Thai Navy and the Royal Thai Air Force. Its main responsibility is to serve and protest the government and the supremacy. Currently there are more than 300,000 soldiers who are active in the military and almost 250,000 in reserve. The military is currently battling Islamist groups in the south of the country.
Having been invaded by the Germans during the Second World War, it’s safe to say that Poland has had to build a quite Polished army for itself over the years. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland include different forces: the Polish Navy, the Polish Land Forces, the Air Force, the Special Forces unit and the Territorial Defense Force. All of these units are under the Ministry of National Defense of Poland command.
The Egyptian Military is the largest military on the African continent and is also the most powerful force in the Land of the Pyramids. The military not only controls the defense of the country, but also produces medicine, diapers, food, and even clothes for the country’s citizens. With 470,000 active duty personnel, the country is fit to take care of most threats. It is currently fighting against ISIS in the Sinai and other Islamists in its western desert.
Established in 1947 after Pakistan gained its independence, the Pakistan Army has taken part in four different wars with its neighboring countries of India and Afghanistan. In the region, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has the sixth biggest army with 620,000 active members, 515,000 in reserve, almost a thousand aircraft and close to 3,000 tanks. The Naval force has 74 vessels. An interesting fact is that the Pakistani Army has actually inducted women in commissioned positions in 2012.
What could really go wrong in the land of pasta and pizza that they would want to have their own armed forces? Well, the peninsula or the boot of Europe as many people know it for, has been involved in quite a few battles throughout history, including World War I and during the Second World Was where they the army didn’t fight within the Italian borders, but also in Greece, Albania and Russia. Vatican City has its own different army which operates under different strategies.
Coming in at number 15 on our list of the strongest armies in the world is The Republic of China Army. Most of the military force (80% to be exact) is located in Taiwan, while the rest of its forces are spread and stationed on the islands of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. Considering the small-sized nation that Taiwan is, it’s quite surprising to find them on the list. There are 300,000 soldiers who are active in the army and more than a million and a half people are in reserves.
On a less surprising note, we have Canada, the North American nation which stretches from northern sea to northern shining sea. Considering the size of the country, they have a fairly small population. Besides its 95,000 soldiers who are currently in service, the Canadian Army also employs around 5,600 civilians. In terms of equipment, the army has 426 aircraft, almost 200 tanks and 63 vessels. The Canadians have fought by America’s side in every conflict since World War I. Believe it or not, the country only has two submarines to defend its coasts!
The Land Down Under might be separated and distant from the rest of the world, being not only a country but a continent on its own, when it comes to its military, they know they need to maintain a strong one. With coastlines along the Pacific, Indian and Southern oceans, it’s almost surprising that the Australian Army only holds 52 ships. There are 60,000 active soldiers currently in service and around 44,000 in reserve. The country is also responsible for the defense of several of its smaller island neighbors.
The Indonesian National Armed Forces is a huge force which is tasked with defending the territorial integrity of one of the largest nations in the world. Spread out over 17,000 islands, the military ensures that Jakarta’s will is felt throughout the land. The country fought a brief war with East Timor, and currently works to suppress Papuan Rebels who want to unite the Indonesian side of the island of Papua with Papua New Guinea. They are also fighting a low level Islamist insurgency as well as pirates.
Being the smallest country on our list doesn’t stop Israel from owning one of the strongest armies in the world. Surrounded by enemies on pretty much every side of it, Israel has been part of endless wars and Islamist insurgencies. The Israel Defense Forces work tirelessly with countries from around the world in order to train them to fight against terrorists and defend their borders. The amount of military tech which comes out of this country belies its small size.
The Turkish military has had a powerful hand in the running of affairs in the country since Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey in 1920. Turkey has been beset by coups after the military felt that Islamists were gaining too much power, but always gave the power back to the civilian government. The Turkish Military today is armed by the United States, and has taken part in the fighting in Syria for several years. The military has also been used to suppress a Kurdish insurgency in the country’s southeast.
As you can probably imagine, Japan’s army is like no other army in the world. The nation, which is situated in the Pacific Ocean just off the eastern side of the Asian Mainland, is unique in the sense that is has its own Self-Defense Force. This basically means that they own the right to engage with any country that is threatening them or attacking them. There are currently 250,000 soldiers serving in the Japanese army and almost 58,000 in reserve.
Germany is one of the strongest nations in the world, both in terms of economy as well as in terms of its military. With 180,000 active personnel, the German military is a force to be reckoned with, and has participated in NATO operations all over the world. The German Military has 676 aircraft, around 400 tanks and around 80 naval vessels. The country is also a major world supplier of submarines.
7. South Korea
South Korea has North Korea to worry about on the north side of the country, which is why it entered our list at number 7. Most of the annual budget goes to the military and on the personnel side, the South Koreans are constantly adding more them. South Korea, or The Republic of Korea has almost 3 million soldiers serving as reservists which is mind blowing in itself, while there are “only” 625,000 people actively serving this conscription based military.
The French Republic has taken part of some of the biggest international wars and conflicts throughout history. The nation also has had its fair share of internal conflicts as well as civil wars. The population of France stands at 66 and a half million people, and out of that number, there are around 200,000 soldiers that are active in the military and almost the same number of people in reserve. The French Army has an astounding number if air craft – 1,282.
5. United Kingdom
This powerful nation dates back to the 17th century when it was still named the English Army. In fact, the name ‘British Army’ was coined in 1707. As a big part of the nation’s formation is Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, which the soldiers are proud to be part of. It is unique in the sense that Queen Elizabeth II actually acts as the Commander-in-Chief. There are 150,000 active personnel in the British Army and around 180,000 in reserve duty. The British Military has recently fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, and is currently carrying out bombing missions in Syria.
Located in the southern part of Asia, India is the 7th biggest country in the world and the second most populated one, right behind China. There are over a billion people living in India. Although the nation is divided into different provinces and states, the Indian Army is all inclusive. At the moment, there are almost a million and half people serving in the army and over two million reservists. It has an amazing number of air craft, 2,086 to be exact. In addition, there are over 6,000 tanks and 200 ships.
Before the 1970s, the main mission of the military was to take back mainland China from People’s Republic of China which was communist in its ideology. Currently, the army’s mission is to mainly defend the islands around of Penghu, Taiwan, Matsu, Kinmen, and extend China’s regional power. While there are more than 20 provinces around China, the Central Military Commission is in control over the entire country. There are more than 2,300,000 active personnel in the army and almost the same number of people in reserve.
Would it be a complete list without Russia? We don’t think so. Coming in at number two on our list is the powerful country of Russia. In fact, the Russian Armed Forces are stronger than more than a hundred other nations in the world. In terms of equipment, they own more than 3,500 aircraft and more than 15,300 tanks!. There are 766,055 active soldiers currently serving the army, and more than 2 million in reserve!
1. United States of America
We can’t say this was a big surprise. At number one on our list of the strongest armies in the world, we have the United States of America. It’s almost like they have the perfect mix of military tools and personnel. The U.S. military is spending an astonishing part of their budget on their military resources, and after September 11th, it even jumped. Currently, there are 1,400,000 active soldiers at the frontline and a little over a million in reserve. If that isn’t impressive enough, The U.S has more than 13,000 aircraft, almost 9,000 tanks and 470 vessels.