Armies are considered an essential part of a country’s security, and every year a large portion of a government’s budget is given to its military. All countries work hard to strengthen their armies, so it can be difficult to determine which has the ‘best’ army, but we can look at the countries with the ‘strongest’ army in terms of size, budget, technology and or the number of allies.
The United States has had one of the biggest armies in the world and has been considered to be the world’s biggest military power since World War II. One of the main reasons for this is because the US army has a whopping budget of $716 billion for 2019, which is more than the other countries’ budgets mentioned below combined. There are over 1.4 million soldiers in the military, with 800,000 reservists and around 200,000 active troops in 170 countries. One of the biggest advantages the US army has is due to it being a leader in aircraft, with a total fleet of 19 carriers, 11 being full-sized carriers and eight helicopter carriers. The US Army also has world-class technology, such as the Navy’s rail gun and possesses 6,550 nuclear warheads.
Though Russia has a relatively small economy, it manufacturers a lot of military hardware and is often ranked close behind the United States in terms of strength and power. In recent years, however, there has been a reduction in the budget, and in January 2019 it was announced the budget would be 1.44 trillion rubles ($21.5 billion), due to plans to modernise outdated equipment and its focus on nuclear forces. Nevertheless, Russia’s military is still a force to be reckoned with, with over 1 million active personnel and 2.5 million in reserve, a total aircraft strength of over 4000. Russia’s land strength is over 21,000 vehicles, including 15,500 tanks, which makes it the country with the largest tank force in the world. They do fall behind in the number of aircraft carriers, with just one in service, but do have nearly 300 warships such as destroyers and frigates and an estimated 6,800 nuclear warheads.
It is no surprise China makes this list, with a population of 1.4 billion, and the biggest military population at 3.7 million, with 2.2 million active, which makes it the largest land force in the world. The millions of soldiers are equipped with 3,000 aircraft, 13,000 armoured vehicles and 714 ships, and a second aircraft carrier in production. However, China struggles with modernisation and organisation problems, but with a military budget of 1.18 trillion yuan ($175.98 billion), the second largest behind the United States, it is increasing its military power year on year and has a total of 270 nuclear weapons. What’s more, China is known for successfully stealing sensitive military technology and secrets from other powerful countries, as well as being secretive about their own strategies and ability.
India has made use of its massive population of 1.37 billion people and has a total military personnel of 3.5 million, 1.4 million active and 2.8 million on reserve, which makes it the second largest after China. The country has a large number of armoured vehicles at over 16,000, along with an aircraft carriers and nearly 300 other naval assets. Its total aircraft strength is estimated at over 2000 and has between 120 to 130 nuclear weapons, which have a distance range of all of Pakistan and most of China. For 2019, the defence budget was set around Rs 300,000 crore ($43 billion), in an effort to secure India’s borders and improve the modernisation of the military.
The United Kingdom, though it has smaller numbers due to a smaller population, is still considered amongst the top military powers in the world mainly because of the superior military training, equipment and the 215 nuclear weapons. The estimated total personnel stands at 233,000, with 150,000 active and a reserve of 83,000. The UK defence spending for the coming year is planned to be £37.6 billion ($47.9 billion). The UK’s aircraft strength stands at just over 800 and has over 5000 active land vehicles using modern systems. The Royal Navy is the oldest of the UK’s armed services and was one of the naval superpowers between the 17th and 19th century. Today, however, it has 76 naval assets, including the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier which will be in service from 2020.
Why not take a look at some of our previous posts on militaries around the world and military history, from the toughest military training regimes to the shortest conflicts in history. You may find you get inspiration for your airsoft games or want to add a new airsoft gun to your armoury!