In a perfect world, there would be no armies, no guns, no war. But the reality is that threats both abroad and domestic can place a country’s national security at risk. Such reality compels nations to establish powerful military forces, in the form of armies, to serve as defense and combat mechanisms.
There are several outstanding armies that are widely known for the size and strength of their warfare systems. Check out the ten largest armies in the world in terms of sheer numbers and why they belong to the list.
The top spot in the world’s largest army listing is unsurprisingly claimed by the most populous country in the globe, the People’s Republic of China. The nation has been known not only for its vast territorial domains and enormous population number but for its huge military troops as well. Established in 1927, China’s People’s Liberation Army is composed of the PLA Ground Force, PLA Navy, Second Artillery Corps, Armed Police, and the PLA Air Force. It was recently said to employ approximately 2,285,000 active personnel.
Its manpower consists of citizens aged between 18 to 49 years old. While the Chinese government compels all men above the age of majority to serve in the armed forces, there are actually those who chose to render their services voluntarily. China’s well-trained army is also one of the strongest armies in the world, with extensive weaponry and military resources. It is said to have 8,500 tanks, 61 submarines, 54 surface ships, and 4,000 fighter jets. China is indeed all-out in spending for a well-equipped militia.
2. United States of America
This nation has come a long way since its army’s founding in 1775. The United States currently has 1,447,896 active duty personnel and 1,458,500 in its active reserve personnel. Its approximately 4,217,413 potential army entrants each year greatly contribute to its already enormous military population.
The United States not only has the the 2nd largest army in the world, it also the most highly trained troops and most powerful arsenal by far. Its land forces alone utilize 8,325 tanks, 18,539 armored fighting vehicles, 1,934 self-propelled guns, 1,791 towed artillery pieces, and 1,330 rocket projectors. With its highly advanced weaponry and nuclear power, this nation can surely combat any form of threat to its national security.
Located in the Southern part of Asia, India is the world’s largest arms importer as of 2012. With its approximately 1,325,000-soldier count and heavy military expenditure mainly incurred to establish an impregnable fortress against internal and external threats, India’s armed forces falls on one of the top spots of the largest army in the world category. Aside from the foregoing facts, the Indian army boasts of missiles that have one of the longest distance hitting capacities in the planet.
Russia’s military, also known as the Ground Forces of Russian Federation, is among the world’s most highly experienced armies. The country requires its citizens, from ages 18 to 27, to acquire military education or be involved in service. It has active frontline personnel of around 1,200,000 members and another 754,000 soldiers who act as reserve military manpower. Its ground forces possess 2,867 tanks, 10,720 armored vehicles, 2,646 self-propelled guns, and 2,155 towed artillery pieces.
5. North Korea
A nation known to produce a formidable army, North Korea possesses a dynamic frontline military workforce with 1,106,000 members, and an active reserve workforce with approximately 8,200,000 members as of 2011. It also is abundant in warfare resources, which includes 5,400 tanks, 2,580 armored fighting vehicles, 1,600 self-propelled guns, 3,500 towed artillery pieces, 1,600 rocket projectors, and other powerful weaponry. The government has made it compulsory for all of their capable male populace to render up to 10 years of full military service.
While North Korea’s totalitarian regime has built a massive army, most of their military technology is considered outdated. Still, their nuclear arsenal and close proximity to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, makes North Korea a major threat to world stability.
6. South Korea
North Korea’s neighboring—but alienated—country is the next on this list. However, unlike its highly militarized counterpart, South Korea only compels men from ages 18 to 35 to render a 21-month period of service in the army.
Its armed forces are collectively known as the Republic of Korea Army. It consists of 506,000 troops, using both domestically produced and imported military equipment. As of 2012, the militia utilizes 2,300 tanks, 2,600 armored vehicles, 30 missile systems, and 5,300 artillery pieces. Its ground force population reaches approximately 1,240,000.
The army of Pakistan is a rightful addition to the biggest army in the world list. It is said to have an active frontline military personnel of about 617,000 members and reserve personnel of about 515,500 members as of a 2011 census.
Its ground force uses wide range of equipment: 3,490 tanks, 5,745 armored vehicles, 1,065 self-propelled guns, and 3,197 towed artillery pieces. Its air force makes use of 1,531 aircrafts and 589 helicopters. No one can count out its naval force, which holds 11 frigates and 8 submarines. Pakistan may be a small country by geographical dimensions, but it is undoubtedly one of the world’s colossal armies by size and warfare prowess.
Said to have the most powerful military among all the other countries in the Middle East, Iran is also known for its great troop strength. It has approximately 545,000 active personnel, which is subdivided into 14 land divisions and 15 air force groups. Its army is equipped with 2,895 tanks, 1,500 armored vehicles, 310 self-propelled guns, 860 rocket projectors, 1,858 aircrafts, and 800 helicopters.
Turkey definitely maintains one of the largest military troops in the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Its government requires its men from 20 years of age to enroll in military service. The conscription lasts for about 6 to 15 months, depending on the educational level of the trainees.
Its military headcount totals 1,041,900, comprising 612,900 members of the active frontline personnel and another 429,000 in the active reserve. Its army is also well-equipped, holding 4,460 tanks, 1,500 self-propelled guns, 7,133 armored combat vehicles, 406 rocket projectors, 1,512 total aircraft and 570 helicopters.
The military force of the state of Israel is known as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The government enforces conscription on men upon reaching the age of 18. Each year, the army can take around 121,722 men to serve in any of its military divisions. Currently, the IDF has active frontline personnel of around 187,000 members and active reserve manpower of around 565,000 members.
Added together, the IDF’s troop strength totals approximately 752,000. All of them are equipped to defend the country with the use of 3,870 tanks, 1,775 armored vehicles, 706 self-propelled guns, 350 towed artillery pieces, and 48 rocket projectors.
Not all countries in the world need a large army for rock-solid protection. However, maintenance of peace and order would be difficult, if not impossible, without a well-organized, properly-directed, and fully manned armed force to handle the possible worst case scenarios.