There are many ways in which one may measure the strength of a military, but
one of the most logical ways of doing so would be to consider the manpower
behind the military. With nearly every country in the world having a substantial
amount of their population in the military, the top 15 countries in the world
with the most military service personnel are certainly forces to be reckoned
U.S. Army Rangers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
We have listed the top 15 militaries in the world according to the amount of
people that are currently operating in the military, regardless of roles and
including the reserve military. Many people assume that the United States has
the biggest and best military in the world, but the following list might
15) Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
The army of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as the
People’s Army, is the largest military in the world. Currently active in the
military are 1,106,000 and there are a further 8,200,000 in the reserve
military. In the paramilitary there are 189,000 available, making the whole
population of the People’s Army a massive 9,495,000.
The army is controlled mostly through the National Defense Commission, which
was led by Kim Jong-il until 2011. Today, the Ministry of Peoples Armed Forces
and the staff department manage the army.
Since 1990, a number of transformations and changes have occurred within the
People’s Army and its leadership, giving it a whole now control structure. These
changes were made as a measure of ensuring the power of former leader Kim
Jong-il, but today, the Republic is led by Kim Jong-un.
The People’s Army is made of up of a Navy, a Ground Force, an Air Force and
Rocket Forces. There have been numerous missile tests, from 1993 right up until
2009. Despite being the largest army in the world, however, the army is
considered to be lacking in terms of technological advances, after its 2009
missile test ended in disaster. Regardless of technological prowess, however, it
remains the largest army in the world.
The Vietnamese army has an active military of 455,000 and a reserve military
of 5,000,000, meaning that its reserve military makes up most of its force.
There are just 40,000 in the paramilitary. In total, however, the nation has
more than 5,495,000 soldiers, making it the second largest army in the world.
The Vietnamese Army, otherwise known as the People’s Army of Vietnam, is the
armed force that protects the socialist republic. The army includes its own
Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Border Defense Force. There is not official
Ground Force that the country uses, however, as all of the ground troops
technically belong to the ministry of Defense, and not the army.
Vietnamese Troops on Spratly Island
The Vietnamese Army was first created in 1944 during the Military Conference
of the Revolutionary Party. The army was created as a way of driving the
Japanese and French colonizers out of the country. The first unit of the army
consisted of just three women and 31 men. There were just 17 rifles available,
two revolvers and a one machine gun. It was in 1950 that the army had grown and
become the People’s Army of Vietnam.
Vietnam has not, since 1990, had any of its forced stationed internationally.
It is considered insignificant with regards to modern international conflict,
but its manpower is significantly bigger than any country involved in conflict
13) Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea Army is the official armed forces for South Korea. The
army has been active since the 5thSeptember 1948, and today has a total of
5,187,000 people in its active army and reserve. Active in the military, the
Republic of Korea has more than Vietnam, with 687,000 soldiers. There are
1,000,000 in the reserve army, and a further 3,500,000 in the paramilitary,
which is more than in Vietnam and North Korea combined.
South Korean Forces
The army is designed to operate in the mountainous terrain that makes up a
large proportion of the Korean Peninsula, and it is also designed to work as a
domestic self-defense system. South Korea, whilst it has been engaged in the
Vietnam War, Korean War, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan War and Iraq War would
not be able to withstand an attack from North Korea, should there be one in the
Secretary of Defense Carter Thanks U.S. and South Korean
The army is split into three organizations, which include the First Army,
Second Operational Command and the Third Army. Each section of the army has its
own divisions and head quarters, and are responsible for the capital city, as
well as a number of areas across the state. As of 2014, the First and Third
Armies will be combined to create the First Operations Command.
The Indian Army has an active military of 1,325,000, which is significantly
larger than any of the top three. When the reserve military and paramilitary are
combined, India has a total manpower of 4,768,407.
Soldiers from 4th Rajput Battalion
The Indian Armed Forces include the Army, Navy and Air Force with support
from Paramilitary forces. Today, the Armed Forces is commanded by President
Pranab Mukjerjee. The army has a number of domestic suppliers, including the
shipbuilders and engineers, Garden Reach, Goa Shipyard Limited, Indian Ordnance
Factories and Hindustan Aeronautics. The army also has a number of foreign
suppliers, including Russia, France, Israel, Bulgaria, the Ukraine and the
India has one of the longest military histories in the world, dating back
thousands of years. The very first record of an Indian Armed Forces can be found
in the Mahabaratha, Ramayana and the Vedas. What’s more, maritime history in
India goes back more than 5,000 years. It is thought that the very first tidal
dock to be built was in India. It was built around the time of 2300 BC in
Lothal, near what we know today as Magrol harbor.
11) People’s Republic of China
The Armed Forces of the People’s Republic of China is the 5th largest in the
world, with an active military of more than 2,285,000 and a reserve military of
800,000. There is also a paramilitary of 1,500,000, and despite being the 5th
largest, it is certainly the largest in terms of active military. Today, the
armed forces include a Military Police Force, Air Force, Army and Navy.
Nearly 17% of the central budget for 2003, in China, was spent on the
military. It is ranked as the 20th most expensive military in the world.
Chinese Tanker Soldiers Meeting U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace
In was in 1950 that the politicization of the armed forces in China became
apparent, when a director of the Secret Police was appointed. The new director,
Chiang Ching-kuo, was educated in the Soviet Union and had extensive experience
working in surveillance and the military. Controversy was rife with this move,
and when Sun Li-en, an American-educated individual, opposed the appointment,
Ching-kuo had Li-jen arrested. Li-Jen was kept under house arrest until 1955.
10) Russian Federation
The Russian Federation has more than 1,040,000 people active in its military,
and a further 2,035,000 in its reserve military. The paramilitary has another
449,000 available, meaning that the size of the entire Russian army is roughly
The Russian Armed Forces is roughly 27 years ago, and today, the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief is the President, Vladimir Putin. 2013 statistics show that
the budget of the Russian Armed forces was a huge $90.7 billon, which was 4.4%
of the Gross Domestic Product of the nation.
The Russian Armed Forces have a number of domestic suppliers that include
Admirality, Yantar and Northern Shipyards, GAZ, KAMAZ, Kamov, Tupolev, Ilyushin
and Sukhoi. The Russian Armed Forces also provides a large amount of exports,
giving resources to Peru, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iraq, Bolivia, Ecuador,
Argentina, Romania, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Palestine, Pakistan, India, Kazakhstan,
Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brazil and a number of other nations.
Branches of the forces include the Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy, Missile
Troops, Aerospace Defense Forces and the Airborne Troops.
Iran follows Russia closely as the seventh largest armed forces in the world,
with an active military of 523,000, and a reserve military of 350,000. While
these seem like modest figures compared to the top six, the country makes up for
it in its large paramilitary. Latest statistics show that Iran has a substantial
paramilitary that equates to more than 1,510,000 troops.
The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran include a number of
branches. These are the Army, Ground Force, Air Force, Air Defense Force, Navy
and the IRGC. The United States Central Commander, John Abizad, once called the
force the most powerful armed forces in the Middle East.
The Iranian Armed Forces have a number of foreign suppliers, including China,
Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Cuba, Belarus and North Korea. There are many domestic
suppliers, too, including Defense Industries, Iran Aviation Industries,
Aerospace Industries and the Iran Electronics Industries. The army also has an
extensive military history, having been involved with a number of wars. Iran has
defended itself against Anglo-Soviet invasion and the Iran Crisis of 1946. There
was also the Dhofar Rebellion, Seizoure of Abu Musa and the Consolidation of the
Iranian Revolution. There was also the Iran and Iraq War, and the armed forces
have also been involved with the Kurdish civil war. The Heart Uprising was
another conflict that the Iranian Armed Forces were involved with, along with
the Syrian civil war.
Iranian Army in Tehran
The Iranian Armed Forces had a budget of around $7.31 billion in 2007,
according to London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies, and this
was a lower figure than other nations within the Persian Gulf.
8) United States of America
While the United States of America does indeed have one of the most
influential militaries in the world, it is often mistaken for being the biggest.
This is simply not the case, and is in fact the eighth largest in the world.
There is a substantial active military of 1,429,995, which is larger than any of
the other armed forces before it. However, the reserve military and paramilitary
only bring up the total figure to 2,291,910, which is less than Iran.
U.S. Soldiers in Iraq
The US Armed Forces’ Commander-in-Chief is the incumbent president, President
Barack Obama. The Secretary of Defense is Chuck Hagel, and the Chairman of the
Joint is General Martin Dempsey. The minimum age of anybody signing up to the
military is 17 years old, as long as there is parental consent. Voluntary
service is available for anyone of a minimum of 18 years of age. Maximum age of
enlistment is 28 to join the Marines, 34 to join the Navy and 27 to join the Air
Force. Nobody older than 35 can join the US Army.
U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
The US Armed Forces might not be the largest in the world, but it is
certainly the most expensive. In 2011, the country spent an estimate of 4.9% of
its overall Gross Domestic Product on the military.
The US Armed Forces has an extensive history, having been involved with the
first American Revolutionary War, continental expansion, Civil War, WWI & WWII,
the Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Grenada and Panama invasions and the
Persian Gulf War. More recently, the American Armed Forces have been involved
with the Kosovo War, War in Afghanistan and the Iraq war.
Within the US Armed Forces, there are numerous ranks. These include Army
officers, warrant officers and enlister. There are also Marine Corps officers,
warrant officers and enlisted, and this trend continues for the Air Force, Navy
and Coast Guard.
The Brazilian Armed Forces currently have an active military that includes
327,710 troops. There is a reserve military of a sizeable 1,340,000 and a
paramilitary of 395,000. This means that the country has a large 2,062,7109
troops available should it need them.
The Armed Forces of Brazil include the Air Force, Army and Navy, and their
headquarters can be found at the Ministry of Defense. The Commander-in-Chief of
the Armed Forces is President Dilma Rousseff and the Minister of Defense is
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 45 can be conscripted for compulsory
military service, and this conscription will last between 9 and 12 months.
As well as the armed forces, there is also a Military Police that works
alongside the Military Firefighters. These are all reserve forces for the Army.
The Brazilian Navy is the oldest section of the Brazilian Armed Forces and it
includes Naval Aviation and Marine Corps. Brazil also boasts the most
significant and powerful military in the whole of South America.
6) Republic of China (Taiwan)
The Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan, has an active military
consisting of 290,000 personnel. There is a reserve military of 1,657,000 and a
paramilitary of 17,000, making the overall size of the Taiwanese Armed Forces
R.O.C. Military Parade
The Republic of China Armed Forces has four branches, including the Military
Police, Air Force, Navy and the Army. The Minister of National Defense is Yen
Mind, and the Chief of General Staff is Kao Kuang-chi. The Commander-in-Chief of
the Republic of China Armed Forces is the President, Ma Ying-jeou.
Until the 1970s, the primary mission of the armed forces of the Republic of
China’s mission was to retake mainland China away from the communist Republic of
China. Currently, the mission of the Republic of China’s Armed Forces is to
defend the island of Taiwan, as well as Matsu, Quemoy and Penghu. Today, a
conflict remains between the Republic of China and the communist People’s
Republic of China.
Pakistan’s Armed Forces has a total of 1,434,000 troops available. These
include 617,000 active military personnel, as well as 513,000 reserve military
personnel and more than 304,000 paramilitary troops.
The Pakistan Armed Forces have four branches, including the Navy, Coast
Guard, Air Force and Army. The armed forces for the country were founded in
1947, and today, the chairman of the armed forces is General Khalid Shameen
Wynne. The Secretary of Defense is Lt. Gen. AsifYaseen Malik and the Chief of
Army Staff is General AshfaqParvezKayani.
The armed forces was founded when Pakistan first became independent from the
British Empire, and since its liberation, the forces have played a large part in
the history of the country. The armed forces appeared because of the wars
against India that occurred in 1947 and 1965, and later in 2008, the country
spent 2.6% of its Gross Domestic Product on its armed forces.
As well as the Indo-Pakistani wars, the armed forces of Pakistan have been
involved with an operation in Balochistan in the 1970s, the Kargil War, Siachen
Conflict and the Shia Insurgency in Yemen. There has also been a war in the
North West of Pakistan in historically recent years.
Egypt has a total of 1,344,500 troops in its armed forces, which include
468,500 active troops, 479,000 reserve troops and 397,000 paramilitary troops.
The Egyptian Armed Forces are the largest armed forces to be found in the
whole of Africa and the Middle East. They are the 10th most powerful in the
world, and the armed forces consist of the Air Defense Command, the Navy, Army
and Air Force. Their armed forces were founded in 1922, and their headquarters
can be found in Cairo.
Anybody between the ages of 18 and 49 can apply to work in the military, and
the conscription in the country can last between one and three years, depending
on individual circumstances.
Egyptian Security Forces
The armed forces have a large amount of power in Egypt. Throughout most of
the history of the Republic of Egypt, either active or retired officers and
personnel from the military have been in charge of the state. In July 2012, the
first civilian was democratically elected into office to serve as president, but
was later removed after a military coup in July 2013.
The Egyptian Armed Forces have been involved in a number of conflicts since
the Second World War, including the Arab-Israeli War, Egyptian Revolution,
Tripartite Aggression, North Yemeni Civil War, Six Day War, Nigerian Civil War,
War of Attrition, Shaba I, the Libyan and Egyptian War and the Golf War.
Cuba has a relatively small active military, with just 49,000 troops
available. Despite this, the country has a large military reserve, which
accounts for around 1,159,000 people, and also has 26,500 available in the
paramilitary. This means that Cuba has a combined armed force of around
1,234,000 people, which is more than nearly all Western nations.
The Cuban Armed Forces were founded in 1960, and their branches include their
paramilitary units, the Navy, Air defense Force and the Army. The
Commander-in-Chief of the army is their President, Raul Castro, and the Minister
of the Revolutionary Armed Forces is Corps Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frias.
The armed forces of Cuba is officially known as the Cuban Revolutionary Armed
Forces, and it has a number of foreign suppliers, including Russia, China, North
Korea and the Soviet Union. The forces of Cuba have SAMs, ballistic missiles,
anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft guns, multi rocket launchers, self-propelled
artillery, towed artillery, armored personnel carriers, main battle tanks and
The Ukraine Armed Forces have a massive 1,000,000 troops available in its
reserve military, with a further 129,925 troops available in its active
military. What’s more, the country has more than 84,900 available in the
paramilitary, making the total sum of troops available more than 1,214,825.
The Uktraine Armed Forces are led by their Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Viktor
Yanukovych. The Minister of Defense is Pavlo Lebedyev, and their forces were
founded in 1917. Later, in December 1991, the armed forces were reconstituted.
Soldiers of the 79th Airmobile Brigade
The Ukraine is a non-aligned state, which means that the company has a
positive relationship with its neighboring nation, the Russian Federation. For
this reason, the Ukraine allows some of the Russian Federation’s armed forces to
stay and operate on Ukrainian soil.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces are spread across the Navy, the Air Force and the
Ground Force. Most of the forces are made up of people who have been conscribed
into the army, and its overall personnel includes more than 41,000 civilian
Sleeve Patch for the 11th Army Aviation Regiment
In 1996, the state adopted the State Programme for the Building and
Development of the Armed Forced of Ukraine. This was a new the beginning of the
creation of a new kind of military district. Today, there are also numerous
Guard units in operation, which are in place due to the influence of the
once-Soviet Armed Forces.
Turkey has the 15th largest armed forces in the world with a total of 664,060
troops active within its military. On top of this, there are a further 378,700
available in the reserves, and another 152,200 people available in the
paramilitary. This means that the country has a sum total of 1,194,960 troops
available should it go to war.
The Turkish Armed Forces are the military forces used to defend the Republic
of Turkey. These armed forces include the Naval Aviation and Naval Infantry, the
Air Force and the Army. The armed forces of the nation were first formed in
1920, and today, the headquarters of the forces can be found in the city of
Turkish Army Chief and His Administration
The Supreme Military Commander of the forces is the President Abdullah Gul,
and the Minister of National Defence is Ismet Yilmaz. Anybody over the age of 20
can sign up to work in the army, and there is a conscription of young people in
the country that will last between six and 12 months, depending on the amount of
education that the individual has received.
In 2011, Turkey spent around 2.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product on
the armed services, and its domestic suppliers included the Mechanical and
Ultimately, the power and force of an armed force depends on a number of
things. The size of a military is a good indicator of the power behind a
military force, however, the United Kingdom is a great example of how a military
can be influential and powerful regardless of size. Despite not being one of the
15 largest militaries in the world, the United Kingdom is one of the most
important military partners of the United States.
Today, we can measure the power of a military force by the technology it has
available, funding available from the government, troops available and past
success rates in conflicts.