Top Ten Armies in the World

There’s been much discussion and debate about the original article, Top 10 Armies in the World, written in 2010. In an effort to better quantify the rankings of the top military forces in the world, data was analyzed on more than sixty countries across a variety of points.

The most recent data available at was reviewed including size of defense budget, number of active military members, number of tanks and armored vehicles, number of aircraft and helicopters, and number of naval craft. Each component was then assigned a weight before a comprehensive score for each country was calculated, which differs from the rankings Global Firepower assigned.

Most countries like to boast of their military prowess but not all can back up their claim as one of the best in the world with data and numbers. However, after the calculations were completed, the top ten armies in the world were easily visible as the most powerful militaries in the world.

#10: United Kingdom


The British military is over 200,000 strong across three branches of service – navy, army and air force. The U.K. has a defense budget of nearly $58 billion annually. Of the top ten military powers, it has the smallest number of active duty members but one of the largest budgets. With nearly 1,800 aircraft and helicopters and over 5,500 tanks and armored vehicles, it is a viable force and an unwavering ally of the United States.

#9: Pakistan


Pakistan’s military was founded in 1947 and consists of three branches of service. It maintains a force of over 600,000 people who have all volunteered for service. Pakistan’s military has close ties to the militaries of the United States and China. With a defense budget of just over $5 billion, it is the smallest budget of the top ten military powers, but still far exceeds many other defense budgets around the world. While on par with the U.K. for naval craft, Pakistan boasts several hundred more aircraft and helicopters and over 9,000 tanks and armored vehicles.

#8: Iran


Iran’s modern day military was founded in 1923 and currently has over 500,000 active members. With a defense budget of just over $10 billion, Iran is a formidable military. It has more naval craft than the United States and United Kingdom combined and is surprisingly close to the same number of aircraft and helicopters as China, which has a much larger force size and defense budget.

#7: France


While France may not necessarily have the reputation of a military superpower, the numbers show differently even if their perceived attitude around the world does not. France has a military of over 360,000 strong across the army, navy, air force and paramilitary branches. With a budget of over $58 billion, it is fourth on the list behind the U.S., China and Russia. It does have the smallest number of aircraft and helicopters of any other military power in the list.

#6: Turkey


The Turkish Army dates back more than 2,000 years though the modern day military branches were founded in 1920. With a force of over 600,000 and a budget of close to $19 billion, it is solidly in the top ten military powers in the world. It ranks fourth on the list for tanks and armored vehicles with estimates of just over 11,000. With very few exceptions, military service is required of all male citizens after the age of twenty, contributing to the large force size.

#5 North Korea


The Korean People’s Army includes five branches of service – ground force, navy, air force, special operations and strategic missile force. Its military is quite large with over one million on active duty. Combined with the staggering reserve force of over eight million, it has the largest military in the world.
With its neighbor to the south, tensions are always high. Because of the alliance between the United States and South Korea, this makes the U.S. a known enemy as well. North Korea is no stranger to making threats against other countries including the use of its nuclear and chemical weapons.

#4: India


The Indian military is over one million strong across four branches as well as paramilitary units. It is an all-volunteer force operating under of budget of more than $44 billion. While its aircraft and helicopter as well as tank and armored vehicle numbers rank it solidly in the middle of the list, it has the smallest naval craft fleet of the top ten. India is also estimated to have more than eighty nuclear warheads in its possession.

#3: Russia


The current Russian force was founded in 1992, however, Russia has a military history that dates back as early as 863. All male citizens between the ages of 18 and 27 are drafted for military service for a period of 12 months. There are some exceptions including being a student or the parent of two or more children.
Russia currently has over 1.2 million active duty military members and operates under a budget of more than $64 billion dollars. It is surpassed in military spending only by China and the U.S. Of note, it does have more than double the number of aircraft and helicopters as China, though China has double the number of tanks and armored vehicles. Russia also has the largest number of nuclear warheads in the world, though not the most active.

#2: China


The People’s Liberation Army of China was founded in 1927 and has the largest active duty force in the world with nearly 2.3 million serving. It has the second largest defense budget of more than $129 billion. It is also known to house nuclear weapons with estimates around 240 in country. Even though there is technically a requirement for military service, the military has never had an issue with maintaining a large force through volunteers. Therefore, a draft system is not currently in effect.

#1: United States


The United States military has a long history dating back to 1775. With over 1.4 million on active duty, it has the second largest active duty force ranking only behind China. However, the defense budget is what really sets the U.S. apart from all other countries on the list. With a budget of over $689 billion, its budget exceeds all other military budgets on this list combined by nearly $300 billion.

Ranking only behind Russia in the total number of warheads, the U.S has the largest number of active warheads in the world. The U.S. also has the largest number of aircraft and helicopters by far with just over 21,000 and barely skirts ahead of China in the number of tanks and armored vehicles.


Top Ten Armies Article published by on May 5th 2010

Nearly every country in the world has its own army to protect its interests against internal and external enemies. The top ten armies of the world were chosen based on their military history, current operations and size of force as well as their reputation as a military force. Most of these armies were involved in the major conflicts of the modern day world including World War I, World War II and the Korean War. In addition, many of these armies have been involved in conflicts fighting for their own country’s independence.

#10: Pakistan

Pakistan’s Army was founded in 1947 and maintains a force of over 500,000 strong who have all volunteered for service.

Pakistan’s military history includes conflicts with its bordering neighbors of Afghanistan and India, the Gulf War and Mogadishu, Somalia in the early 90s.

Pakistan has also served as an ally to the United States in the Global War on Terrorism by assisting in fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and along the border of Pakistan.

#9: Israel

Israel is the only country in the world that requires military service from both male and female citizens with few exceptions.

The Israel Defense Force was founded in 1948 and maintains an active duty force of over 100,000.

The Israeli military history includes the Arab-Israel War, the Six-Day War and numerous conflicts with Lebanon and Palestine. The United States remains one of Israel’s largest allies.

#8: Russia

Russia has undergone numerous changes throughout its military history dating back to 863. The modern day army is known as the Russian Ground Force and was founded in 1992.

Previous Russian military organizations, including the Red Army, have been involved in regional conflicts, both world wars and the Cold War. Before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was the known as the superpower of the world and had surpassed the United States in terms of the number of soldiers and nuclear weapons.

The Russian Ground Force is staffed through mandatory service; though many in the country have either deferred under exceptions or offered bribes to officials not to serve.

#7: Turkey

The Turkish Army dates back more than 2,000 years. The modern day Turkish Army is one of the few notable armies that stayed neutral during World War II.

Although the Turkish Army was involved in the Korean War, the largest conflict in the 1900s was in the Turkish Independence War where it fought Russia, Britain, Greece, France and Italy along its borders.

Military service in Turkey is required with few exceptions and it has resulted in Turkey having the second largest ground force in NATO.

#6: North Korea

The North Korean People’s Army was established in 1939 and has an impressive force of more than one million soldiers. When reserve unit numbers are counted in this total, estimates are more than seven million soldiers who could be activated if needed.

Major conflicts in North Korea’s history are the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Tensions between North and South Korea still exist today and, technically, the conflict has not officially ended between the two.

North Korea has confirmed its nuclear and chemical weapons capability in recent years with threats against various countries including the United States, mainly for its alliance with South Korea.

#5: Germany

The German Army has one of the most notable histories with the rise of Hitler. The German Army was responsible for the start of World War II when it invaded Poland.

After the War ended, Germany was in a divided state and formed the West Germany Army.

After reunification in the 1990s, the armies from the east and west were combined into the current German Army. The current military force in Germany numbers over 200,000 active soldiers.

#4: India

The Indian Army dates back to the Stone Age. Today, it is known as being the largest all volunteer ground force in the world with more than 1,000,000 active duty soldiers.

India has never had to institute a draft to staff its ground force. The Indian Army has been involved in both world wars as well as several conflicts to fight for its own independence.

Pakistan has been its target on more than one occasion in its military history.

#3: United Kingdom

The British Army was organized in 1661 and has been involved in various conflicts including the Napoleonic Wars, Revolutionary War and both world wars.

The British Army has had a significant presence in Northern Ireland and the Balkans while standing beside the United States in the Gulf War in the 1990s as well as the Global War on Terrorism after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The active duty force of the British Army is more than 100,000 strong, making it the second largest army in the European Union behind France.

#2: China

The People’s Liberation Army of China is the largest in the world numbering over two million soldiers even after significant cuts in forces in recent years.

The Chinese Army was established in 1927 and involved in the Sino-Japanese conflict, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam.

While technically service is required for all men over the age of 18, China has never had to draft soldiers as there has always been more than enough Chinese men who have volunteered for military service to their country.

#1: United States

The United States Army dates back to 1775 when the Continental Army was created to fight in the Revolutionary War. The U.S. Army has participated in every major world war, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism.

The current active duty force for the U.S. Army numbers over 500,000 with a combined total of over one million with Reserve and National Guard soldiers.

The modern day Army is an all volunteer force with permanent posts throughout the United States as well as Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Japan and Korea.

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  • no wonder theres wars with freaks like all these people going on about who can blow up who… get a grip an have smoke ya tatties

    • ALI ! you said, “Pakistan army is the best in all over the world because Allah helps them in every war”.

      That is why Pakistan lost all wars.

  • We all know the best trained and fittest army is the brits this seems to be all about size instead of technique considering the Brits trained half the army’s in the world and still do GSTQ

  • This list is partly irrelevant, because it fails to take into account the type of war a country is likely to face. For example, countries like Russia, Germany, and Pakistan are unlikely to experience an attack by a naval force. Consequently, their need for a strong navy is limited. Their attempts to develop one have justifiably aroused suspicion. On the other hand, countries like the UK and Japan need to place much more reliance on naval power and much less on land forces for protection.

    In addition to the kind of war a country is apt to face, the list fails to account for the strength of the enemies a country is would most likely need to fight. North Korea and South Korea are surrounded by powerful potential enemies. Britain and the US are not.

    Thirdly, if a major war broke out, it would probably engender alliances that could nullify the advantages a particular country appears to enjoy vis-à-vis any single enemy country.