The Netherlands may not be the country you first think of when it comes to military strength, but they are very formidable. Their special forces units in particular are elite.
Like many smaller European nations, Denmark doesn’t have an endless supply of soldiers to march on the battlefield. However, Denmark has taken part in its fair share of conflicts throughout the nation’s history, and they are always ready for action. So while they only have about 30,000 soldiers, the troops that they do have are well prepared and can fight as a unit. What’s the nickname of their military? Throughout the world, they are simply known as “The Hunter Corps.”
Everyone has heard, and probably participated, in the many jokes about Switzerland. The perception is that because the Swiss tend to be neutral and stay out of other nations’ conflicts, that their military is somehow lesser than other forces. This isn’t really true, though. Their population is very well trained, given to the fact that all males are responsible for doing military service in Switzerland. Swiss troops are serious about their duties, too – even when home on leave, they take their weapons wherever they go.
The Czech Republic has been through a lot during its history, and like many nations that have had a difficult past, they always make sure their military is well equipped and perfectly trained. Not only that, but the nature of the country’s geography alone requires a good military, since they’re surrounded by nations that aren’t always fond of them. The Czech Republic doesn’t initiate conflicts, but they aren’t afraid to step in for their allies when needed, either.
Although Mexico was once involved in its share of conflicts, those years have long been over and it mainly keeps up its military as a general requirement that every sovereign nation fulfills. However, Mexico certainly hasn’t gotten complacent, and they have even taken advantage of the last century or so to bolster many areas of their military, including their naval forces. The Mexican Navy includes about 56,000 active duty servicemen and women, who often keep themselves busy fighting the war on drugs.
Sweden has earned a well-deserved reputation as a idyllic country filled with beautiful landscapes and happy people. The standard of living in Sweden is one of the highest in the world. However, this peace-loving nation still maintains a very capable military. One thing that helps the military out is the requirement that all citizens serve in the military, ensuring a well-trained populace that most nations definitely wouldn’t ever want to invade. Their counter-espionage forces are also considered to be highly talented.
North Korea is an extremely controversial nation. However, despite their fanatical, aggressive reputation on the world stage, not many world leaders would deny the power of the country’s military. North Korea is truly ready for anything, as approximately 5% of its nation serves in the military at any given time. Furthermore, the country spends a ton of money to build and maintain weapons, military vehicles, and long-range missile systems.
Like its South American cousin Mexico, Canada is often the last country that you would think of if asked to list the world’s most fearsome militaries. Canada’s reputation for being a nation that doesn’t rock the boat on the world stage doesn’t help change that perception. However, they have shown how well-trained their military is on many occasions over the years, including during the two World Wars, where Canada’s brave, disciplined troops played a huge part in the eventual outcome.
Indonesia is the largest island nation in the world and the 14th largest country in the world based on land mass, much of which is covered in dense forests that include often deadly wildlife. On top of that, it is one of the most populous nations on the planet, with about 260 million people. All this adds up to a nation that not many other countries would dare invade, especially considering the extremely tough reputation of the nation’s formidable military forces.
Germany’s controversial past is extremely well known at this point. However, while you can’t justify the nation’s actions before and during World War II, you also can’t dispute the historical might of their army, which was able to fight off almost all the other major world powers by itself in World War I. These days, Germany is still hampered by sanctions imposed following World War II. Nonetheless, Germany has a solid military that continues the tradition of excellence that was started over a century ago.
Polish people have always been known for being very tough. Whether you’re talking about Poland’s men or women, everyone in the nation seems to be a little bit tougher than their counterparts in other countries, at least according to the popular stereotype of Polish individuals. So due to that perception, it’s no surprise that Poland’s military is extremely tough, too. In addition to good old-fashioned grit, Poland has another considerable asset in the form of its fleet of tanks, which numbers in the thousands.
If you’re wondering why Taiwan is on this list, that’s no surprise. After all, Taiwan has definitely not been a historical military power throughout its history, and its one of the smallest states in all of Asia, to boot. However, in recent decades, Taiwan has certainly had to step up its efforts to develop and maintain a decent military. After all, the nation’s proximity to China requires that it will always be on its toes and ready for anything.
Speaking of China, the nation has one of the most impressive militaries on the planet. In a way, this isn’t much of a surprise. After all, China has an absolutely gigantic population and plenty of money to spend, too. Therefore, China has plenty of troops, all of which are trained properly by experienced leaders. To top it all off, China has more tanks and submarines than all but one other nation throughout the world, which is extremely impressive in and of itself.
You don’t have to visit Thailand to know that it is a very small and seemingly vulnerable nation. After all, the country may have 66 million people, but it is also located nearby a number of historical rivals. However, no one has to help Thailand defend itself in the event of a conflict, because that nation’s military is always ready to handle its business. Thailand has not only trained thousands and thousands of dedicated troops, but also a fleet of over several hundred tanks.
Australia is a very interesting nation, as it includes a huge mass of land, but it also completely separated by water around its entire perimeter. Despite its location, Australia continues to maintain a huge number of tactical vehicles, which help the nation to sit in the top 20% of all nations on the planet in that category. Of course, with such a large land mass to monitor, such vehicles are a necessity. The nation’s tanks, helicopters, armored vehicles and other vehicles are always ready to be summoned into battle.
Many nations require compulsory military service when citizens reach a certain age, but Israel does things a little bit differently. That’s because in Israel, all citizens must serve, including women, whereas most other nations only require men to serve. That means that by the time they reach their adult years, every citizen in the nation has learned the art of hand-to-hand combat, completely learned how to properly handle their weapon, and may be able to operate all manner of military vehicles.
While Egypt may not be one of the larger world powers today, that doesn’t mean that you should underestimate them. After all, Egypt is a huge nation that has never been shy about entering conflicts in the past. Furthermore, they have a very large army and the technological capability to succeed, including the fifth largest tank fleet in the world. They are well accustomed to desert warfare and have no fear, owing to being in a very volatile region for centuries.
In 1925, Iran established the Islamic Republic of Iranian Army (IRIA). With over 500,000 active personnel, the Iranian Army is no joke. For years they relied on the United States for weapons. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, they cut ties with the Western world, now depending on relationships with Arab nations and Russia to equip its servicemen. Their inventory consists of locally maded Zulfiqar tanks, armored vehicles, and motorized artillery units. Its defense budget is around $30 billion.
It’s been decades since the end of the global conflict in Vietnam, but Vietnam still maintains a nice sized army. The Vietnam People’s Armed Forces is split into three regimens – Vietnam People’s Public Security, Vietnam People’s Army, and the Vietnam Civil Defense Force – each focused on maintaining the peace. With a population over 92 million, Vietnam has 415,000 active personnel. Impressively, they also have 5 million reservists. Its budget recently increased to over $4.6 billion, an 258 percent increase from the previous decade.
Although the National Army of Colombia has not deployed forces overseas for decades, it is very active at home. They are currently at war with a handful of leftists rebels including the FARC, ELN, and EPL. The Colombian Army is known for the Lancero Course. It is a dedicated counterinsurgency course held 150 miles from Bogota where temperatures range from 85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s based on Army Ranger School and is considered one of the toughest in the world.
The Myanmar Army is the largest branch of the Armed Forces of Burma and has the primary responsibility of conducting land-based military operations. Their army is the second largest active force Southeast Asia after the People’s Army of Vietnam. As of 2006, it was recorded that the Myanmar Army had a troop strength of around 350,000 with its extensive combat experience being in fighting insurgents in rough terrains due to its non-stop counter-insurgency operations. Their army is so important that one quarter of their national budget is allocated to defense.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine are composed of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, the Ukrainian Navy, the Ukrainian Air Force and the Ukrainian Airmobile Forces. As a result of the ongoing hostilities with the Russian Federation, the Ukraine was forced to increase the size of its military forces to 204,000 soldiers as of 2014. More recently, due to having Russia as its neighbor, they upped their active frontline personnel to 160,000 with an additional 1,000,000 reserves. They also hold 234 aircrafts, 2,809 tanks and 24 ships.
The SAF (Sundanese Armed Forces) are Sudan’s army. In 2011, it was estimated that their military personnel numbers stand around 110,000, comprising the Sudanese Navy, Air Force and the Popular Defense Force. Sudan previously had Joint Integrated Units formed together with its rebel enemies the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. As of 2001, it was reported that their annual budget was $4 billion and they recently signed a military equipment deal with China and Russia. Furthermore, Sudan also has a weapons production company called the Military Industry Corporation.
The South Sudanese Armed Forces were formerly known as Sudanese People’s Liberation Army since 16th May 1983 up until 16th May 2017. The army was founded as a guerrilla movement in 1983 and was an integral participant of the Second Sudanese Civil War. As of 2013, the army was estimated to have around 210,000 soldiers with smaller divisions within comprising 10,000 to 14,000 soldiers. In 2013, a fight broke out between different factions of the armed forces with the South Sudanese government describing it as a military coup.
The Eritrean Army is the largest branch of the Eritrean Defense Forces and is based in the capital, Asmara. The army is composed of four separate corps with each one broken down into 20 infantry brigades, single commando division and one mechanized brigade. However, due to the change in organizational structure in 2000, the number of division in the army today cannot be confirmed. Their strong army has led them through many wars since they announced their independence in 1992.
The Royal Moroccan Army is the branch of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, responsible for land-based military operations. The army is approximately 175,000 troops strong with an additional force of 150,000 reservists and paramilitary forces including 20,000 regulars of the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie and 30,000 Auxiliary Forces in the event of war of sudden siege. During the 20th century, the Moroccan forces were an important part of World War I and more recently the Central African Republic conflict which began in 2012.
The Afghan Armed Forces is led by the President of Afghanistan as the Commander-in-Chief of the military. It is controlled by the Ministry of Defense and after 2002, the Afghan Armed Forces were rebuilt by the NATO forces, most notably the United States after the removal of the Taliban. The Taliban regime established a military force on the basis of Islamic sharia law and were fighting the British and American forces after hiding and protecting 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden.
The Spanish Armed Forces have proven their strong military capabilities and are active members of NATO, the Eurocorps, the European Union Battlegroups and also provide peace keeping troops to the United Nations. Due to their position in the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by Portugal and France they have utilized their geographical location to build a strategic advantage in importing weapons and capitalizing on their ocean advantage. They have approximately 120,000 active personnel and receive an annual budget of $16 billion.
The Malaysian Army is currently organized into five divisions and placed under the Field Army Headquarters and is split into two sub areas, the Peninsula Malaysia and East Malaysia. The Army structure was inherited from the British Army and has 17 levels from Private to General. The army itself boasts a considerable military front with extensive artillery along with 227 air crafts, 74 tanks and 61 naval vessels. In addition, they have around 80,000 military personnel with an extra 50,000 reservists.
The Singapore Armed Forces are another Southeast Asian army which boast an impressive army. Due to Singapore being a pioneer in technology, it is said that their military capabilities are mostly made up of their own technological advances. Although there are only 72,000 military personnel, there are an additional 950,000 reservists who can be call up if needed. In 2014, Singapore joined the coalition forces the ongoing war against ISIS in an attempt to wipe out the terrorist organization and stop them from gaining terrorities in Syria and Iraq.
South Africa’s military force was established in 1994 following their first post apartheid national elections and the adoption of a new constitution. In 1999, the South African Government finalized a deal to purchase $4.8 billion in weaponry but the deal was subjected to corruption allegations. Currently, they have 78,700 active military personnel who have mostly kept the peace within their borders as well as an additional 15,000 reservists. The South African army has a vast collection of 212 air crafts, 195 tanks and 30 military ships.
Many Middle Eastern nations maintain very tough, experienced militaries, especially when considering that the region as a whole can be quite volatile and prone to breakouts of violence between nations or even factions within nations. In Pakistan, the military has not been hampered too badly by the country’s fairly small population, and instead continues to operate as a well-honed machine. Of course, they may not be concerned because they know they have one of the best nuclear weapons arsenals in the world.
Earlier, we talked a little bit about how difficult it is to live in a nation within the Middle East, where a certain amount of fighting is almost always seen as the norm. Turkey finds itself very much in that situation, as the nation is found right between Europe and the Middle East. Therefore, it’s hard for Turkey to satisfy every nation, which is why Turkey maintains a very large tank fleet and thousands of armed, highly trained soldiers.
Historically, the United Kingdom is known for having an absolutely dominant navy, no matter what other nations thought about their other forces. However, the UK has continued to step up its military program, adding a top of the line aerial defense program and a number of special forces legions that can be used for everything from reconnaissance to pure target elimination. The versatility of the UK’s forces make them extremely hard to compete with, and the UK has always come out looking like world-beaters after entering conflicts.
Italy isn’t a very big nation geographically speaking, but it’s also hard to imagine a tougher military when it comes to pound-for-pound might. Their troops know that they lack the sheer numbers of many other military forces throughout the world, but they try to compete by emphasizing quality over quantity. So far, this approach has always worked out for Italy. In addition to the troops themselves, Italy also has access to hundreds and thousands of planes, submarines, aircraft carriers and other special vehicles.
France took center stage especially during the first and second World Wars, and they’re still here to tell the tale after it all. Throughout generations now, France has continued to boast an extremely formidable military. These days, they are not under much threat of attack from their neighbors, but instead have decided to tackle other powers that threaten the well-being of French citizens. Enemy number one right now are the terrorists that French forces often protect the borders from.
India isn’t seen as a very macho nation, instead having earned a reputation for a quickly growing population and a familiarity with technology that has helped its economy tremendously. However, one area in which India has not really strived to keep up is in the area of sheer military forces. At the same time, though, India backs up its rather meager seeming military might with its amazing nuclear weapons capabilities. In the world today, very few nations are as equipped to deal with a nuclear show like this one.
China understands that no matter how many willing troops you have, you must have more than sheer manpower to stand out among the militaries of today. Fortunately for China, the nation has plenty of money and has been able to spend quite a bit on defense. In fact, China spends at least $126 billion each and every year on defense! In addition to their technological prowess, they have a well-trained military, with at least 5 million soldiers ready to go at all times.
Like Taiwan, the Philippines may not have a whole lot of reasons to maintain a capable military if it wasn’t for their proximity to China. The nation has a pool of about 23 million males and females that are fit for military service, with about a hundred thousand actually joining the military at any given time. Even with that many active personnel, the nation doesn’t leave anything to chance, building over one hundred aircraft and a large number of tanks, too.
If you think that the nations in the Middle East have it hard when it comes to neighbors that are difficult to get along with, you should acquaint yourself with the plight of South Korea. South Korea has been antagonized by its neighbors to the north for generations now, necessitating the creation of an extremely tough military. To this day, South Korea spends about $34 billion each year on their military, while the military regularly maintains over 600,000 active troops and another few million reserves.
Japan may not have a lot of geographical space compared to China, but it has other things going for it, including a very large population from which to draw from. In addition to sheer numbers, Japan can also boast a huge amount of annual military spending, which has reached $49.1 billion. This type of investment allows Japanese military leaders to continue recruiting students and investing in the skills of their troops. At the same time, Japan has built one of the world’s largest air forces.
Sometimes, a gift can also be a curse. You don’t have to tell Saudi Arabians this, as the oil that their nation is sitting on top of has provided the nation with much of its livelihood, but also made it a target for other power-hungry nations. To counteract the threats caused by the presence of the nation’s oil, Saudi Arabia has invested highly in its military. How highly? Consider that Saudi Arabia has recently spent as much as 25% its annual budget on military spending.
While a lot of people recognize that Brazil is one of the most populous nations in the world and the biggest country in all of South America, most would not expect a nation such as Brazil to have a very efficient and deadly army. However, there is strength in numbers, and Brazil has a reserve pool of about 1.8 million reserve troops, which go along nicely with the nation’s active duty service men and women. Brazil remains ready for anything despite its track record of peaceful relations.
Russia has been on lists like this one for generations. Since its inception, Russia has provided the rest of the world with a stoic, reserved toughness that can’t be faked whatsoever. Its performance on the world stage in global conflicts is nearly unparalleled, and even if the nation has dealt with money problems, military spending is never an area that is trimmed as a result. If Russia’s recent actions are any indication, the country certainly isn’t afraid to throw its weight around.
It’s hard to think of a military that has accomplished more in the past 150 years than the United States. Through many evolutions in warfare and technology over the years, the U.S. has continued to stay out in front of the competition. Part of the reason for this is the United States’ investment in military technology, which helps ensure that the military never becomes obsolete. How much does the U.S. spend per year on its military? Try a staggering $600 billion!