How The Top 10 Strongest Militaries Got There May Surprise You

The United States often brags about its military power, but how do we actually rank? World powers have gone to war over the centuries for a multitude of reasons, and we often use military strength to determine a country’s stability today. It’s harder to determine the best militaries in the world than you might think, but the Global Fire Power Index creates an annual ranking that takes a number of factors into account.

It adjusts data for firepower stockpiled and its diversity, geographical factors, population, natural resources, logistical flexibility, and other issues. Furthermore, it does not take current military or political standing into account, making its rankings some of the least biased around. Here’s the top ten militaries in the world, ranked from the bottom up.

10. Egypt

Egyptian soldiers standing guard.
Egypt’s military has a lot of manpower. | Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Getty Images

While Egypt maintains only a $4.4 billion military budget, it makes up for it in sheer manpower. The country has about 1,330,000 active military personnel, which makes for quite a standing army. The index also rates natural resources, of which it noted Egypt’s oil production. It produces 478,400 barrels per day, with reserves of 4,400,000,000 barrels. As of June 4, 2017, GFI also ranked Egypt’s military as the strongest in the MENA region, followed by Israel, which ranks 15th in the world.

Next: This country intends to pump up its military.

9. Germany

A German soldier's military patch.
German’s military plans to grow and get stronger in the coming years. | Huettenhoelscher/Getty Images

The country already ranks ninth in world military power, and intends to increase both its military spending and standing militia, The Trumpet reports. Germany will boost the size of its military to nearly 200,000 by hiring an additional 20,000 soldiers by 2024, according to Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Its government also announced plans to increase its military spending to 2% of its gross domestic product by 2024. It currently stands at $39.2 billion.

Next: This NATO-adjacent country focuses mostly on defense.

8. Turkey

A Turkish soldier salutes in front of the flag.
Turkey has a strong defense fund for protecting their army. | Osmanpek/Getty Images

With armament and technology largely provided by the U.S., Germany, and Israel, some consider Turkey “NATO’s furthest outpost.” Since it does participate actively in efforts both in the Middle East and elsewhere, Turkey has long neglected its own interests. However, it does maintain an $8.2 billion defense fund and more than 740,000 in available military personnel. Recent advances in military technology and equipment might increase Turkey’s ranking, in years to come.

Next: While its defense remains mostly pacifist, this country’s strategy continues to evolve. 

7. Japan

Japanese soldiers marching on the streets.
Japan focuses on defense strategy. | Goldquest/Getty Images

While still embattled in tensions with neighboring China, Japan’s defense strategy continues to evolve. Analysts say Japan’s postwar defense remains consistently more pacifist than militaristic, with policy changes focusing on defense. To date, Japan retains a $43.8 billion military budget and almost 312,000 in military personnel. Experts expect Japan to continue focusing on its own defense, while keeping the U.S. military strategy anchored there.

Next: This country no longer ranks as a superpower, but still retains strength. 

6. United Kingdom

An group of soldiers lined up during a ceremony.
The U.K military has an impressive military budget. | Umdash9/Getty Images

While not exactly a superpower, the UK retains impressive economic, cultural, military, scientific, and political influence internationally. The recent Brexit vote affected global perceptions, but it also retains strong soft power assets. In addition, the country has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its inception. And with a $45.7 billion military budget, the country remains strong financially, as well.

Next: After a series of attacks, this country has pumped up its presence.

5. France

A group of French soldiers patrolling the streets.
The French military is focused on defense and security. | Suman Bhaumik

Following a number of terrorist attacks there, France pledged to upgrade its national security, according to Newsweek. The country announced plans to increase its military equipment spending by $337 million and its total defense budget to about $32.7 billion, up from $32 billion in 2016. In addition, the country’s chief of the defense staff called increasing military spending to 2% of gross domestic product by 2020. France currently spends 1.77% of its GDP on defense.

Next: Sheer numbers really work in the following country’s favor.

4. India

Soldiers marching in India.
India has the third strongest military in the world. | Suman Bhaumik/Getty Images

According to India Express, the country’s military technology, aircraft, and naval vessels remain in rapid development. The rapid pace of its acquisitions and commissioning of defense equipment also shows a commitment to bolstering its military presence and capabilities. One of the country’s military strongholds stands in sheer manpower. With more than 4 million available military personnel, population works in its favor. It also retains the fifth largest Navy in the world and the third strongest army.

Next: This country engages in a practice that can spread its military prowess beyond its own borders.

3. China

Chinese military soldiers marching.
China’s military is catching up to the best in the world. | Hanhanpeggy/Getty Images

The rapid modernization of China’s military resources gives experts pause, the BBC reports. In the areas of technology, its naval and air advances, China has advanced closer and closer to providing a benchmark for the U.S. In addition to catching up with the U.S. and Russia in military capabilities, China also stands in a unique trade position. It pursues an ambitious arms export strategy, often selling advanced technologies that other countries either do not possess or do not want to part with. That means that, even if a country does not face off with China itself, it may encounter its weapons and technology elsewhere.

Next: The following country continues strategizing its military strength.

2. Russia

Russian solders and weapons.
Russia’s military is incredibly strong. | Kichigin/Getty Images

In recent years, Russia has expanded its military influence around the world, fortifying strategic regions in Europe. While the GFPI did not take nuclear weapons into account, Russia makes its impossible to ignore. According to Newsweek, Russia supposedly possesses about 7,300 nuclear warheads, compared with the U.S.’ estimated 6,970. A recent report from The International Institute for Strategic Studies considers China and Russia the most sizeable threats to the U.S.’ military superiority. In an accompanying statement to its 2018 Military Balance assessment, the U.K.-based institute said the countries’ rapidly advancing armed forces may even surpass the West.

Next: This country retains the top spot, but not as solidly as it once did.

1. United States

U.S Military soldiers marching.
The U.S made it to the top of the list. | FlySnow/Getty Images

The U.S. remains the most powerful military in the world, remaining strong in tactical, technological, and personnel resources. That said, recent actions could threaten that position. Extremely tense situations in Syria and North Korea continue to threaten to drag the major powers into conflict. The U.S. also continues to intimidate North Korea, as President Donald Trump boasts about military superiority. While the GFPI rankings indicate the U.S. holds a solid lead, military powers remain only as strong as their actions.

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