The Greatest Armies in the World (2023)

The Greatest Armies in the World (1)

Treaties and political promises mean nothing if they cannot be upheld or protected with state-sanctioned force. Opportunistic states have been quick to exploit vulnerable neighbors since the dawn of human civilization, regardless of the existence of peace treaties. Therefore, the mass mobilization of national populations is an integral part of a country's existence in the 21st century. The presence of military might is a constant balancing act between keeping the peace and engaging in open warfare.

Religious, geopolitical, and economic disputes are not always resolved diplomatically, which is why each of the following countries has invested in building the largest, most powerful armies the world has ever known. This ranking considers active personnel as a key measure and does not take into account the combined military strength of reserve units. Additionally, tooth-to-tail ratios (combat units versus support units) can vary, with a single soldier often being supported by two or even fifteen additional support personnel on average.

  1. China - 2 million active employees
  2. India - 1.45 million active employees
  3. United States - 1.39 million active employees
  4. North Korea - 1.2 million active employees
  5. Russia - 850,000 active employees
  6. Pakistan - 640,000 active employees
  7. Iran - 575,000 active employees
  8. NATO - 3.3 million active personnel

China - 2 million active employees

The Greatest Armies in the World (2)

A 1999 article by expert Bates Gill statesChina's militaryto be a hollow and empty threat to its opponents, despite its previous total of 2.8 million troops. Today, the Chinese military's 2 million units are better trained and better equipped. GlobalFirepower (GFP), an independent analysis group, ranked it 3rd out of 142 countries. The People's Liberation Army (PLA), the nickname of the Chinese Armed Forces, represents its infantry, navy, air force, missile force and strategic support force. Each year, the PLA spends a budget of around $229 billion to maintain its capacity. Despite the high number of employees, there are nonerecruitmentthe civilian population. GFP ratings only consider conventional missions, as opposed to nuclear capabilities.

India - 1.45 million active employees

The Greatest Armies in the World (3)

There is fierce competition on the India-China border, which is one of the reasons India has nearly one and a half million active staff. In 2021, footage reported by CNN recorded a violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops. Maintaining the Indian armed forces, consisting of the army, navy and air force, costs around 66 billion US dollars every year. In 2019, this corresponded to about 2.4% ofIndia's total GDP. This edition is not without merit as India managed to get 4th place in the GFP index. However, the large distance between theStrength of China and Indiait is still noticeable.

United States - 1.39 million active employees

The Greatest Armies in the World (4)

the celebratedWar Machine Two United Statesranks third with its active military personnel at approximately 1.39 million units. This is significantly complemented by the 2022 budget of $782 billion, which is three times the value of the PLA. However, the reserve unit has about 1.1 million members, the same as India, while China has just over 1.2 million. The CFP considers US forces to be the strongest armed forces in the world, and given its 11 sophisticated aircraft carriers compared to China's two, the argument makes sense. A VICE interview with military analyst Dylan Lehrke revealed that the combined forces of the world are unlikely to be able to launch a successful invasion against the United States. Although projecting forces is much more difficult than defending a large area.

North Korea - 1.2 million active employees

The Greatest Armies in the World (5)

Almost 30% of the North KoreansPopulation is in their armed forces, giving them the fourth largest army in the world. However, the sheer number isn't enough to guarantee a top ten position, leaving them 30th in terms of strengthAlgeriaeThailand. Ruled by an oppressive and isolationist regime, North Korea's economic struggles combined with mass poverty have led to significant famines in recent decades. The nation stands between South Korea, its long-time rival, and China, which has a vested interest in tolerating North Korea's presence. It is common in the media for North Korea to announce its plans to attack Western powers. In addition, dangerous missile tests endangeredMainland Japan, although no direct attack has yet taken place.

Russia - 850,000 active employees

The Greatest Armies in the World (6)

Russia is currently considered the largest "paper tiger" in the modern world and has a force consisting of around 850,000 active members. Updates in 2023 will likely show that around 100,000 Russian military and conscripts died in 2022invasion of Ukraine. The reason for this colossal failure lies in the internal and external overestimation of Russian military strength. Rampant corruption and misallocation of resources paralyzed the Russian military before the invasion. Rumors and reports are circulating that Russia is desperately trying to use mercenaries along with mass recruitment from prisons and civilians to gain ground in Ukraine. When the dust settles, however, the international community is unlikely to fear the Russian war machine as much as it has in years past.

Pakistan - 640,000 active employees

The Greatest Armies in the World (7)

The Armed Forces ofPakistanIt is the sixth largest army in the world with 640,000 active soldiers. Similar to other nations, the armed forces consist of army, navy and air force. With an annual cost of $10.4 billion (4% of total GDP), the deal is not insignificant.economicallyor political. Despite its size, Pakistan ranks 9th behind the UK, France, South Korea and Japan according to the GFP. Due to longstanding cultural and geographic disputes, Pakistan's main opponents are India (and therefore Iran) as well as Afghanistan. Although open conflict boils over and tensions rise, the last significant confrontation between India and Pakistan was in 1965.

see more informationWar in Afghanistan

Iran - 575,000 active employees

The Greatest Armies in the World (8)

The issue of civil unrest is the biggest challenge facing Iran right now, with protests erupting across the country in 2021 and 2022. However, the active military force of almost 600,000 is ready to protect against all internal and external threats. Starch cost $25 billion in 2022, accounting for 2.5% of GDP. tensions in betweenIran, Israel, USA, and Saudi Arabia existed for decades due to complex ideological, political and geographic disputes. This state of passive (and sometimes active) conflict is the main reason for each named country to increase its military efforts in the region. Iran, in particular, appears to be outnumbered. However, Iran currently has no nuclear arsenal. According to the GFP, Iran is the 14th strongest military power behind Egypt and Turkey.

NATO - 3.3 million active personnel

The Greatest Armies in the World (9)

Almost 3.3 million people make up the total number of NATO troops. The agreement consists of 30 nations that have agreed to adefensive Militärbündnis. These nations are Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkiye, United Kingdom and United States. The structure is unique because NATO forces consist of an integrated chain of all member nations rather than a single body. However, with member countries like France and Germany low on the list with just 205,000 and 183,000 troops respectively, their combined forces are a dominant presence internationally. Combined defense spending for NATO members in 2022, including the United States, was $1.2 trillion.

see more informationNATO countries


Perhaps an age is coming when all the world's armed forces will be completely dismantled andnuclear arsenal. That day has not yet come, and modern societies continue to prepare for prolonged or occasional conflict. Despite the attempts at peace that have been made around the world since thenEnd of World War II, it might just take a nuclear-armed leader to set off a devastating global chain reaction. Many tensions and disputes still exist between countries today, alongside a handful of open conflicts, cementing the need for every state to invest in an armed force. In the future, space forces will likely appear more and more frequently as the warlike nature of humanity changes.attention to the stars. Regardless, universal peace must remain the focus of all world citizens for millennia to come.

25 Greatest Armies in the World

classificationLandNumber of military in the activity
4North Korea1.200.000
8South Korea555.000
17Sri Lanka250.000
20Saudi Arabian225.000
25Great Britain194.000


cory priceJanuary 7, 2023 atGesellschaft

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