In October of 2015, Credit Suisse produced a report on globalization, including comparative military strength. To be fair, the rankings are purely quantitative and don’t account for the quality of training and materiel. As a result, the rankings are a bit of a surprise.
According to Business Insider, the report assigned weighted values for six variables before tabulating a final score: number of active personnel (5 percent of total score), tanks (10 percent), attack helicopters (15 percent), aircraft (20 percent), aircraft carriers (25 percent), and submarines (25 percent).
Here you go, starting with the bottom…
Active frontline personnel: 92,000
Canada probably figures it has the U.S. next door, so why bother, eh?
Budget: $6.9 billion
Active frontline personnel: 476,000
Indonesia beats out Canada because it has high numbers of active personnel and a relatively large number of tanks.
Budget: $40.2 billion
Active frontline personnel: 179,046
Total aircraft: 663
Really? Number 18 out of 20?? Germany is low on the list because it has virtually no power projection platforms like an aircraft carrier.
Budget: $9.4 billion
Active frontline personnel: 120,000
Total aircraft: 467
Poland is ahead of Germany! Wow. It has more tanks and has significantly increased military spending in reaction to Russia’s increased belligerence.
Budget: $5.39 billion
Active frontline personnel: 306,000
Total aircraft: 573
Even THAILAND beats Germany? Pretty amazing. Thailand’s military is currently in control of the country, so that could be a part of it.
Budget: $26.1 billion
Active frontline personnel: 58,000
Total aircraft: 408
Australia’s military is comparatively small but it gets high marks for attack helicopters and submarines. But it’s still ahead of Germany!
Budget: $17 billion
Active frontline personnel: 160,000
Total aircraft: 684
In absolute terms, Israel has a small military but it is handsomely outfitted with a large tank, aircraft, and attack helicopter fleet plus space assets, advanced fighter jets, high-tech armed drones, and nuclear weapons.
Budget: $10.7 billion
Active frontline personnel: 290,000
Total aircraft: 804
Threatened by China, Taiwan has focused its military development on defense. The island has the fifth highest number of attack helicopters in the list and a fairly large number of aircraft and tanks.
Budget: $4.4 billion
Active frontline personnel: 468,500
Total aircraft: 1,107
After receiving substantial financial aid from the U.S. Egypt has the fifth largest tank fleet in the world. In fact, it has over 1,000 M1A1 Abrams tanks, many of which sit in storage and have never been used – and if they’re never been maintained, they probably will NEVER be used.
Budget: $7 billion
Active frontline personnel: 617,000
Total aircraft: 914
The Pakistani military is one of the largest forces in the world, in terms of active personnel. On a very scary note, some experts believe Pakistan is building nuclear weapons so fast it could have the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal within 20 years.
Budget: $18.2 billion
Active frontline personnel: 410,500
Total aircraft: 1,020
Turkey’s armed forces are one of the largest in the eastern Mediterranean. Although it doesn’t have an aircraft carrier, only five countries on this list have more submarines.
9) United Kingdom
Budget: $60.5 billion
Active frontline personnel: 146,980
Total aircraft: 936
Although the UK is planning to reduce the size of its armed forces by 20 percent, it’s still able to project power across the globe. In 2020, the Royal Navy is planning to put the HMS Queen Elizabeth, an aircraft carrier with a flight deck measuring at 4.5 acres, into service, carrying 40 F-35B joint strike fighters across the globe.
Budget: $34 billion
Active frontline personnel: 320,000
Total aircraft: 760
Who knew? Italy places high on the list because it has two active aircraft carriers and relatively large submarine and attack helicopter fleets.
7) South Korea
Budget: $62.3 billion
Active frontline personnel: 624,465
Total aircraft: 1,412
South Korea has the sixth largest air force in the world. You’d be worried too if Lil’ Kim with the nuclear ambitions lived upstairs.
Budget: $62.3 billion
Active frontline personnel: 202,761
Total aircraft: 1,264
The French military is relatively small but highly trained, professional, and capable of force projection.
Budget: $50 billion
Active frontline personnel: 1,325,000
Total aircraft: 1,905
India is one of the largest military powers on the planet with the most active manpower of any country aside from China and the US. India also has access to nuclear weapons and is expected to become the fourth highest military spender on Earth by 2020.
Budget: $41.6 billion
Active frontline personnel: 247,173
Total aircraft: 1,613
In absolute terms, the Japanese military is relatively small but extremely well-equipped. Size doesn’t always matter.
Budget: $216 billion
Active frontline personnel: 2,333,000
Total aircraft: 2,860
In the past few decades, China’s military has grown rapidly in terms of size and capability. In terms of raw manpower, it’s the largest military in the world.
Budget: $84.5 billion
Active frontline personnel: 766,055
Total aircraft: 3,429
Russia has unquestionably the second strongest military power in the world, and has the world’s largest tank fleet. Russia’s military spending has increased
by almost a third since 2008 and is expected to grow even faster in the near term.
1) United States
Budget: $601 billion
Active frontline personnel: 1,400,000
Total aircraft: 13,892
Whew. Despite Obama’s best efforts to dismantle our military, we’re still number one. Our biggest conventional military advantage is our fleet of 10 aircraft carriers – for reference, the second biggest fleet is India’s, which is has three. We also have the most aircraft of any country, cutting-edge technology and the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.
However, we unfortunately also have incredibly restrictive rules of engagement, which hamstrings our warriors’ ability to succeed on the battlefield. Just imagine how easily we could crush ISIS if we had a commander in chief who commanded the military to actually WIN.
By the way, in the Middle East, the top three countries are Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East from a territory standpoint and has the fourth-highest military spending of any country in the world.
Business Insider says Saudi Arabia has the most updated arsenal in the region, with the exception of Israel. Its air force has air-to-air refueling capabilities and advanced fighter jets.
Saudi Arabia is in a tough neighborhood — the country borders Iraq and Yemen, two of the most chronically unstable countries in the region. But with 36 percent of the population under the age of 24, a sclerotic monarchy, and sectarian tensions, Saudi Arabia might be building its military strength with future internal turmoil in mind.
Saudi Arabia’s national guard — which is responsible for internal security, and not organized with external defense in mind — is one of the most capable security forces in the entire region.
Not sure if that’s good news or bad.
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]