U.S. Markets closed

The 11 Most Powerful Militaries In The World

Jeremy Bender

Asymmetrical wars in Afghanistan, Vietnam, and now in Syria demonstrate all too clearly that relatively small numbers of belligerents can carry out successful military operations against superior forces.

But still, firepower is extremely important. A country's projection of power relies in large part upon its military capabilities. Successfully being able to project and wield that power is a key diplomatic asset.

The website Global Firepower ranks the most powerful militaries in the world based on multiple factors, including available manpower, total labor force, and access to strategic assets. Nuclear capabilities are not included in the calculation.

Below are the 11 most powerful militaries in the world according to the 2014 rankings (click country names to see military assets data).

1. The United States

USS Eisenhower

(Stringer . / Reuters)

The U.S. defense budget is $612 billion. Despite sequestration and other spending cuts, the United States spends more money on defense than the next ten highest spending countries combined.

America's biggest conventional military advantage is its fleet of 19 aircraft carriers, compared to 12 carriers operated by the rest of the world combined. These massive carriers allow the U.S. to set up forward operating bases anywhere and project power throughout the world.

The super power also has by far the most aircraft of any country, cutting-edge technology like the Navy's new rail gun, a large and well-trained human force — and that's not even counting the world's largest nuclear arsenal.

2. Russia

Russia Tank Parade

(Maxim Shemetov/REUTERS)

Two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's military is growing again. The Kremlin's military spending has increased by almost a third since 2008 and is expected to grow 44% more in the next three years. Today, the Russian defense budget stands at $76.6 billion.

Russia currently has 766,000 active frontline personnel with a reserve force of 2,485,000 personnel. These troops are backed up by 15,500 tanks, the largest tank force in the world. Russian soldiers generally receive relatively mediocre training, however, and their equipment, like that tank force, is aging.

3. China

AP06072502444

(Associated Press)

China has embarked upon a relentless policy of massive military spending, with a 12.2% increase in spending over the past year. China's defense budget stands at $126 billion but could unofficially be higher, prompting concern across Asia as China attempts to project its power to settle border disputes with Japan and the Philippines. 

The size of the Chinese army is staggering, with 2,285,000 active frontline personnel with an additional 2,300,000 in the reserves. China also has a history of successfully stealing sensitive military technology, such as recently acquiring sensitive information about the new F-35.

4. India

4. India

(Wikimedia Commons)

India's defense spending is expected to rise as it pursues a modernization drive. Currently, it is estimated that India only spends $46 billion on its budget, and it is slated to become the fourth highest spender by 2020. It is already the world's largest importer of military goods. 

India has ballistic missiles with a range capable of hitting all of Pakistan or most of China. Indian military strategy has been dominated by its long-simmering conflict with Pakistan, although there have also been minor wars between China and India in the past.

5. The United Kingdom

British Soldier Afghanistan

(British Army Corporal Birendra Limbu of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, shows his rifle to Afghan children as he secures an area near an Afghan National Police (ANP) checkpoint outside the town of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, July 13, 2011. Shamil Zhumatov/REUTERS)

The U.K. is planning on reducing the size of its armed forces by 20% between 2010 and 2018, with smaller cuts to the Royal Navy and RAF. The defense budget stands at $54 billion.

Despite scaling back, the U.K. counts on being able to project its power around the world. The Royal Navy is planning on putting the HMS Queen Elizabeth, an aircraft carrier that has a flight deck measuring at 4.5 acres, into service in 2020. The Queen Elizabeth is planned to carry 40 F-35B joint strike fighters around the world. Thanks to superior training and equipment, Britain could still hold an advantage over emerging powers like China, according to a leading think tank.

6. France

French Soldiers Mali

(French soldiers stand on a street during a patrol ahead of Sunday's presidential election in Timbuktu, July 25, 2013. Joe Penney / Reuters)

France effectively froze its military spending in 2013 while cutting 10% of its defense jobs in an effort to save money for purchasing high-tech equipment. The country spends  $43 billion a year on defense, which is 1.9% of its GDP, below the spending target set by NATO for member countries.

Despite a leveling off of its military budget, France is still highly capable of projecting force around the globe, with significant deployments  in the Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Senegal and elsewhere around the world.

7. Germany

German Special Forces

(Fabian Bimmer/REUTERS)

German military strength falls short of its economic strength on the world stage. Recently, Germany has started considering offering military support to eastern European NATO members. It has also considered a more active international role militarily. Germany spends $45 billion on its military annually, making it the eighth largest spender in the world.

Following the aftermath of World War II, the German population generally became anti-war. The German military was originally limited to a defense force, but has become more accustomed to taking an active international role following the breakup of Yugoslavia. Germany only has 183,000 active frontline personnel with an additional 145,000 members in the reserves. Germany eliminated mandatory service in 2011 in an attempt to create a professional army.

8. Turkey

Turkish Military Honor Guard

(Umit Bektas/REUTERS)

Turkish military spending is expected to rise 9.4% in 2014 over the 2013 budget. The ongoing conflict in Syria and possible clashes with the Kurdish separatist organization, the PKK, were key reasons for the spending increase. Turkey's defense budget stands at $18.2 billion.

The NATO member has contributed soldiers to various initiatives around the world. The Turkish military took part in operations in Afghanistan, as well as in peacekeeping operations in the Balkans. Turkey also maintains a large military force in Northern Cyprus.

9. South Korea

south korea, military exercise, jan 2011, snow

(AP)

South Korea has been increasing its defense spending due to both the increasing armament of Japan and China, and the constant threat from North Korea. South Korea spends $34 billion on defense.

South Korea has a relatively large military force for its small size. It has 640,000 active personnel with an additional 2,900,000 personnel in the reserves. South Korea also has 2,346 tanks and 1,393 aircraft. The South Korean military is generally well-trained and routinely takes part in military exercise with the United States. South Korea's air force is also the sixth largest in the world.

10. Japan

japan army self defense force

(US Army)

Japan increased its defense spending for the first time in 11 years in response to growing disputes with China. It has also started its first military expansion in over 40 years by placing a new military base on its outer islands. Japan spends $49.1 billion on defense, the sixth most in the world.

Japan's military is fairly well-equipped. It currently has 247,000 active personnel with an additional 57,900 in reserve. Japan also has 1,595 aircraft, the world's fifth largest air force, and 131 ships. Japan's military is limited by a peace clause in the constitution that makes it illegal for the country to have an offensive army.

11. Israel

Iron Dome

(AP)

Israel spends significantly more than its neighbors proportionally for defense. In 2009, Israel spent 18.7% of its national budget on defense. Israel's defense budget stands at $15 billion.

A large percentage of the Israeli defense budget goes toward defense technology. One of the best examples of this is Israel's Iron Dome, a missile defense shield that can intercept rockets shot into Israel from the Palestinian territories. Israel aims to replace Iron Dome with a laser defense shield called Iron Beam.



More From Business Insider

  • If you could buy only one stock for 5G and artificial intelligence, this would be it
    Business
    MarketWatch

    If you could buy only one stock for 5G and artificial intelligence, this would be it

    The chart Please click here for an annotated chart of Applied Materials Inc. s (AMAT) stock. Note the following: • 5G and artificial intelligence are huge users of semiconductors.

  • Dow Jones Futures: Walmart Earnings Due, 3 IPOs Near Buys; Warren Buffett Stock Set To Break Out
    Business
    Investor's Business Daily

    Dow Jones Futures: Walmart Earnings Due, 3 IPOs Near Buys; Warren Buffett Stock Set To Break Out

    Dow Jones futures rose modestly Sunday night, along with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures, after the stock market rally kept running last week. Walmart, Medtronic and InMode report earnings Tuesday. InMode stock and fellow IPO stocks Progyny and Ping Identity are setting up again.

  • Business
    Fox Business

    Want to become a Chick-fil-A operator? Here's how much it costs

    How much does it cost to open your own Chick-fil-A franchise? Proof that you're a self-starter with a good personal finance track record -- and $10,000. Chick-fil-A, the nation's top fast-food chain, relies on a franchise business model.

  • Tesla Berlin Factory Risks Legal Delay Over Wildlife
    World
    Bloomberg

    Tesla Berlin Factory Risks Legal Delay Over Wildlife

    Elon Musk's plan to build an electric car plant in Germany has run into legal trouble after a court said clearing a forest near Berlin for a new Tesla Inc. factory must stop immediately while it considers a challenge by environmentalists. The Berlin-Brandenburg higher administrative court issued an injunction against further construction after overturning a lower court ruling against environmental group Gruene Liga Brandenburg. The group is seeking to prevent Tesla from clearing more of the surrounding forest and the court said it will make a final decision on the complaint in the coming days.

  • Mexican Activists Protest After Gruesome Killing of Woman, Publication of 'Horrific' Crime Scene Photos
    U.S.
    Meredith Videos

    Mexican Activists Protest After Gruesome Killing of Woman, Publication of 'Horrific' Crime Scene Photos

    Angry demonstrations broke out in Mexico City on Friday as hundreds of women raged against the gruesome slaying and mutilation of a young woman, a case that has come to personify frustration over the rising incidence of gender-related killings.

  • 2 “Strong Buy” Healthcare Stocks with Over 100% Upside Potential
    Business
    TipRanks

    2 “Strong Buy” Healthcare Stocks with Over 100% Upside Potential

    Naturally, the research should include what the pros on the Street think about a company's long-term growth narrative. Using TipRanks' Stock Screener, we've dug up two healthcare stocks that look especially promising. While each one is unique, the tickers have two things in common: all have room for upside of more than 100%, and what's more, each one currently boasts a “Strong Buy” consensus rating from the Street.

  • How not to steal $1.5 million: Inside an Instagram influencer’s alleged debit card scam
    U.S.
    Quartz

    How not to steal $1.5 million: Inside an Instagram influencer’s alleged debit card scam

    Postal inspectors identified the bank accounts into which the stolen USPS money orders were deposited. One of them belonged to a Barrington, New Jersey resident identified in court filings only as “J.K.” Two of the money orders had been deposited into J.K.'s two accounts at PNC Bank, both for $995. In an interview with Postal Service criminal agents, J.K. said they had responded to a posting by an Instagram user named “Kayg0ldi.

  • Kroger stock soars after Buffett’s investment
    Business
    American City Business Journals

    Kroger stock soars after Buffett’s investment

    Kroger Co.'s stock soared in after-hours trading Friday following the disclosure that famed investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate has made a huge investment in the supermarket giant's stock. Omaha, Neb.-based conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway bought a new position of 18.9 million shares of Kroger (NYSE: KR) stock during the fourth quarter, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Friday.

  • What do the world’s most successful people do when it’s time to retire?
    Business
    MarketWatch

    What do the world’s most successful people do when it’s time to retire?

    When Thomas Schreier Jr. graduated from the University of Notre Dame more than three decades ago, he never envisioned that in his late 50s he'd be teaching a class there called Designing an Inspired Life and regularly walking the South Bend, Ind., campus as the founding director of the university's Inspired Leadership Initiative. The initiative, now in its second year, consists of 15 accomplished individuals who have wrapped up two or three decades in successful careers and are eager to devote an academic year to studies at Notre Dame. Notre Dame's joins similar programs at prominent institutions pioneering this concept: the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute, operated in partnership with the Stanford Center on Longevity, and Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative, a yearlong program for corporate executives and professionals interested in applying their skills to social problems.

  • China Stocks Rebound From Sell-off That Erased $720 Billion
    Business
    Bloomberg

    China Stocks Rebound From Sell-off That Erased $720 Billion

    The market plunged on Feb. 3 as Chinese markets reopened to a health crisis that paralyzed most of the world's second-largest economy. To cushion the blow, China's government has pumped cash into the financial system, trimmed money-market rates and offered targeted tax cuts. Beijing will also allow local governments to sell another 848 billion yuan ($121 billion) of debt before March, as authorities seek to offset the economic shock of the coronavirus.

  • Business
    Barrons.com

    Giant Canadian Fund Sold Disney and Starbucks Stock. Here’s What It Is Buying.

    The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, one of the largest pensions in the world, recently made some big changes in its U.S.-traded stock investments. Ontario Teachers' more than doubled its holdings of (BB) stock (ticker: BB), and made large reductions in Walt (DIS) (DIS) and (SBUX) (SBUX) in the fourth quarter. The pension disclosed the trades, among others, in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • Here’s how one ‘black swan’ investor is protecting his $5 billion fund against a market crash that ‘won’t be pretty’
    Business
    MarketWatch

    Here’s how one ‘black swan’ investor is protecting his $5 billion fund against a market crash that ‘won’t be pretty’

    “Really explosive downside protection is really the only risk mitigation that's able to move the needle for people, because it's the only risk mitigation that doesn't cost you as you are waiting for it to happen,” Spitznagel said. In other words, his fund provides crash insurance so his clients can take on more “systemic risk” with their other investments. Spitznagel, a former trader, is a protégé of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of the 2007 bestseller, “The Black Swan,” which is a metaphor used to describe unpredictable, highly disruptive events — the kind that could blow up markets.

  • World
    Financial Times

    Coronavirus fears force China into mass chicken cull

    China is to begin importing live chickens from the US as feed shortages due to the coronavirus force poultry farms in the world's second-biggest economy to start culling millions of young birds. The culling of poultry follows the mass slaughter of pigs in China due to African swine fever over the past year and threatens to worsen a protein shortage in the country that has sparked rising inflation and soaring meat prices. “There is no question China's chicken population will fall sharply in the coming months,” said Qiu Cong of Jinghai Poultry Industry Group, a leading chicken producer.

  • China Says Coronavirus Cases Rise to 70,548, Deaths Hit 1,770
    World
    Bloomberg

    China Says Coronavirus Cases Rise to 70,548, Deaths Hit 1,770

    China said the death toll from the coronavirus rose to 1,770, while the province at the epicenter of the outbreak reported 1,933 new cases. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is facing “tsunami-like” shocks, and may incur a record budget deficit in the next fiscal year as the city counts the costs of the coronavirus outbreak after months of social unrest, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said. Tom Mackenzie and Yvonne Man report on "Bloomberg Markets: China Open."

  • Business
    Benzinga

    Barron's Picks And Pans: Berkshire Hathaway, Bitcoin, Roku And More

    This weekend's Barron's cover story explores what comes next for the empire that Warren Buffet built. Other featured articles present the annual ranking of top fund families, examine regulatory issues at tech giants and review the performance of former Dividend Aristocrats. Cover story "Inside Berkshire Hathaway's Future Without Warren Buffett" by Andrew Bary makes a case that as the Oracle of Omaha turns 90 this year, the company he built, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NASDAQ: BRK-A), could be in for a stock-boosting makeover.

  • Bayer Faces More Monsanto Pain With Trial Loss on Dicamba
    Business
    Bloomberg

    Bayer Faces More Monsanto Pain With Trial Loss on Dicamba

    The first U.S. trial over a herbicide called dicamba has landed Bayer AG with another potentially multi-billion-dollar headache as the German company works to settle cancer claims over its weed killer Roundup. The case also entangled rival BASF SE. Jurors in federal court in Cape Girardeau awarded $265 million Saturday to a Missouri farmer who blamed the chemical for destroying his peach orchards.

  • U.S. weighs blocking GE engine sales for China's new airplane - sources
    Business
    Reuters

    U.S. weighs blocking GE engine sales for China's new airplane - sources

    The potential restriction on the engine sales - possibly along with limits on other components for Chinese commercial aircraft such as flight control systems made by Honeywell International Inc - is the latest move in the battle between the world's two largest economies over trade and technology. The issue is expected to come up at an interagency meeting about how strictly to limit exports of U.S. technology to China on Thursday and at another meeting with members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet set for Feb. 28, sources said. The White House and the U.S. Commerce Department, which issues licenses for such exports, declined to comment, as did a GE spokeswoman.

  • Bearish Bets: 2 Stocks You Must Consider Shorting This Week
    Business
    TheStreet.com

    Bearish Bets: 2 Stocks You Must Consider Shorting This Week

    Using recent actions and grades from TheStreet's Quant Ratings and layering on technical analysis of the charts of those stocks, Trifecta Stocks identifies five names each week that look bearish. While we will not be weighing in with fundamental analysis we hope this piece will give investors interested in stocks on the way down a good starting point to do further homework on the names. Royal Gold Inc. recently was downgraded to Hold with a C+ rating by TheStreet's Quant Ratings.

  • Business
    Barrons.com

    Apple, Microsoft, and Intel Stock Have Been Killing It. Why Fund Managers Don’t Have Enough.

    (MSFT)(INTC) and (AAPL) among the biggest stocks in the S&P 500 index, have well outpaced the market benchmark in the past 12 months. Apple stock (AAPL), which leads all three in terms of one-year gains, has risen another 10% in 2020. “MIA” stocks is an apt term, given the trio has been underweighted by fundamentally-driven large-cap portfolio managers, according to Harvey.

  • Tesla jolts market with $2 billion stock offering, SEC subpoena
    Business
    MarketWatch

    Tesla jolts market with $2 billion stock offering, SEC subpoena

    Tesla Inc. surprised the market Thursday with the news that it was planning to offer about $2 billion of common stock in an underwritten deal, but an initial negative reaction gave way to hopes it's the right step considering the recent runup for the stock and the Silicon Valley car maker's expansion goals. Tesla stock (TSLA) initially fell Thursday, before recovering to trade nearly 5% higher. Chief Executive Elon Musk will participate in the offering by purchasing up to $10 million in new shares, Tesla (TSLA) said in a statement.

  • Tesla ordered by German court to stop cutting down trees for Gigafactory
    World
    Reuters

    Tesla ordered by German court to stop cutting down trees for Gigafactory

    A German court on Sunday ordered Tesla Inc to stop clearing forest land near the capital Berlin to build its first European car and battery factory, a victory for local environmental activists. The U.S. electric carmaker announced plans last November to build a Gigafactory in Gruenheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg. The court ruling, by the higher administrative court of the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, comes after the state environmental office gave a green light to clear 92 hectares of forest for the plant.

  • Europe Stocks Gain on China Lift; Yen, Gold Slip: Markets Wrap
    Business
    Bloomberg

    Europe Stocks Gain on China Lift; Yen, Gold Slip: Markets Wrap

    European stocks rose on Monday after Chinese shares advanced with the yuan as investors took encouragement from the Asian country's pledges to support the world's second-biggest economy in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. The yen and gold both dipped. Gains in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index were led by automakers and miners.

  • Business
    Financial Times

    US solar industry powers ahead as investors back batteries

    Solar power is no longer confined to daylight hours. Thanks to a wave of investment, solar farms across the US are increasingly being built with industrial-scale battery packs on site so that noontime surpluses can be stored for release in the evening hours when people come home to switch on lights, appliances and air conditioners. Fund managers, power producers, utilities and energy-hungry tech companies are among those making big financial commitments to “solar-plus-storage” projects, introducing a helpful cushion for America's finely balanced electricity markets and easing the way for a sharp rise in renewable generation.

  • Business
    Financial Times

    Airbus case shows France’s new-found anti-corruption drive

    p France long had a reputation for being lax on global corruption and outsourcing its juiciest cases to US prosecutors — Airbus's record €3.6bn settlement in an international bribery probe shows this era may be over. p Paris prosecutors took the driving seat in the international investigation armed with a new set of anti-corruption laws introduced in 2016.

  • Gold Diggers Resist the Rally’s Lure
    Business
    Bloomberg

    Gold Diggers Resist the Rally’s Lure

    Gold held by exchange-traded funds is at all-time records and rising, thanks to worries over the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus outbreak. Take Polyus PJSC, Russia's largest gold digger. This is one of the world's lowest-cost producers, generating plenty of cash, holding one of most impressive untapped resources globally, at a time of rising prices.