Every person in every country, even the people who say they don't want a strong military, wants a strong military. You might say to yourself or to others around you that you don't care about things like that, that you don't want your tax dollars going to something like that, and that you're all about peace and love, but when the chips are down, we all know that you want to know that you and your family are safe at night. Of course, there's a lot of responsibility when it comes to having a strong military. Do you think anyone asks Iceland for help when it comes to military battles? Of course not; they basically don't even have a military at all.
What follows is a list of 10 countries that have the toughest militaries in the entire world. These are the countries that no one wants to mess with and that everyone fears. These are the countries that are on the very top of the list when it comes to technology, weaponry, and manpower. No one in his or her right mind would willingly start a war with any of these countries. Then, on the other side of the coin, we decided to round up the countries with the absolute worst militaries in the world. You could probably round up 10 of your buddies and roll in and conquer these countries without much of a fight. Just don't blame us if it doesn't go according to plan.
Here are the 10 strongest militaries in the world. And the 10 weakest.
20 Weakest: Afghanistan
Now, we're on to the bad militaries, the ones that pretty much scare nobody at all, except perhaps for the citizens of their own country. If you were the manager of an inner city 7-11 and you needed to hire security for the overnight shift and one of these countries' entire military applied, you would probably say no.
10th on the list is Afghanistan. According to Military.com, "The sad truth is that all that nifty training doesn’t make up for the fact that the ANA will likely collapse like a card table when the U.S. leaves Afghanistan—if the U.S. ever leaves Afghanistan. Not that they can’t fight, but they can’t do much else. One advisor told al-Jazeera, “In fact, talk to any coalition troops on the ground, and they'll tell you the Afghans can fight but only after they have been fed, clothed, armed, and delivered to the battlefield by NATO.” While Afghanistan is certainly not the worst military in the world, it's pretty close. You have to feel bad for these soldiers. I know that I do, just a little.
19 Weakest: Saudi Arabia
It might be a surprise that Saudi Arabia is on this list, but let's face it—their military pretty much stinks. Sometimes, you judge a military not on the budget that they have or the number of soldiers in their fighting force; sometimes, you have to judge them on what they get done.
As military.com says, "The Saudis are currently engaged in a coalition military operation in Yemen with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an effort to expel Houthi tribesmen from Sana’a and re-establish the Sunni rulers. And they can’t. The Saudis and Emiratis have naval and air superiority, superior training, material, and numbers on the ground, and the backing of U.S. intelligence assets. They’ve been there since March 2015, and the Houthis are still in the capital."
Saudi Arabia has a huge army, but they're built for old-school wars and not the kind of thing going on now.
In theory, all the countries in their region should fear them, but instead, they're kind of treated like a huge joke, which is why they made this list.
18 Weakest: Mongolia
Mongolia used to be thought of as a pretty scary country to go up against in battle. Back in the day of Genghis Khan, Mongolia swept across the region and took control of an enormous amount of land, including large sections of China and Central Asia. They'd often massacre entire towns as they came through. The only thing is, now, you might get by for a little while rolling into towns on horses and swords and screaming really loud, but not for long. Military.com says, "Oh, how the mighty have fallen. As a landlocked country, the Mongols have no Navy or need of one. Unfortunately, they’re also locked between Russia and China and could not possibly defend themselves from either. In fact, if a Russian-Chinese war ever broke out, part of it would likely be fought in Mongolia. The Mongols have sent forces to assist the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, but their expertise is in teaching U.S. troops how to recognize and use (if necessary) old Soviet-built arms and equipment."
17 Weakest: Tajikistan
Okay, so I would have to say that I wouldn't think that Tajikistan was all that tough, but this bad? Come on. Military.com says, "The Tajik Army is a mess. Unlike other Soviet states after the fall of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan had no native units to absorb into its new independent government. The Tajik military was not built around old Soviet units. The Tajiks were left defenceless with only a Russian peacekeeping force. In 1994, they formed their own Army, which immediately resulted in a Civil War. Just what one might expect from a country whose capital is named 'Monday.' Tajiks prefer the Russian Army because the pay is better. Those who are drafted are often kidnapped and then sometimes hazed to death." So, wait a minute... if you join the Tajik army, you sometimes get kidnapped from the Tajik Army? Isn't the army the thing that's supposed to be all tough and all that? It's totally a bad sign if a problem with joining the army is that you might get kidnapped. This army is a joke.
16 Weakest: The Philippines
Back in the day, the Philippines was considered at least a little bit tough. I mean, sure they pretty much lost everything, but they were proud and willing to battle everyone from the Americans to the Japanese. But these days, things are pretty rough. Military.com says, "Despite the Chinese military buildup in the region, with aggressive moves by the Chinese to claim areas and build islands close to the Philippines, the Philippines’ Naval and Air Forces are still nearly 60 years old, and its ships are old U.S. Coast Guard cutters." If that isn't bad enough, check out what Thediplomat.org has to say: "This week, the Philippine Air Force announced that it had allocated money for the acquisition of spare parts and related services for the maintenance of its existing combat helicopters. The development marks another step forward for a key aspect of Manila’s ongoing military modernization to boost its growing but still limited capabilities." Yes, you read that correctly—it's news that the Philippine military has money to buy spare parts for helicopters.
15 Weakest: Nigeria
Things are pretty bad in Nigeria. According to military.com, "One soldier described it to BBC as: 'Imagine me and you are fighting; we both have guns, but while you are wearing a bulletproof vest, I’m carrying an umbrella.' The article goes on to say, 'Soldiers in the country’s Northeastern Borno State are so under-equipped, their armored vehicles don’t actually move. Some soldiers are known to flee with civilians as they tear off their uniforms.'" Let's back that up a bit. So, they have armored vehicles, but they don't actually go anywhere, and when attacks occur, the soldiers often take off their uniforms and run screaming down the road next to women and children. Now, don't get me wrong—I'm not trying to present myself as some big tough guy; I wouldn't even want to be in the military in a country like the United States, let alone Nigeria. But this just sounds super bad. To top it all off, the Nigerian military has been accused of a lot of human rights abuses over the years. This is just one big dumpster fire of a military.
14 Weakest: Eritrea
Some countries just are overmatched right from the start. If you take a look at the photo that goes with this entry, you'll see that these dudes wouldn't exactly instil fear in an opposing army. What's up with those uniforms? And are those even guns they're carrying? I don't know about you, but I think I could go down to the local bar and find a bunch of scarier-looking dudes to hang out with. Military.com says, "A country is obviously great when it’s known as 'Africa’s North Korea' in international relations circles. Eritrea’s armed forces have one of the highest concentrations of conscripted men of any army in the world, which it uses more for forced labor than to secure its borders or fight al-Shabab terrorists. This is the country so great that 2,000 people a month seek asylum in Sudan. Sudan is supposed to be an improvement." So basically, this country drafts a whole bunch of dudes into the military, but instead of using them to fight wars or protect borders, they turn them into slaves.
13 Weakest: North Korea
Yeah, it's true. North Korea has an awful military. Maybe this is why Trump wasn't too worried about taunting Kim Jong Un and calling him "Rocketman." According to Military.com, "On the outside, the North Korean Army looks like it's the priority for the Kim regime. The border towns of Panmunjom and Kaesong, as well as Nampo (where a series of critical infrastructure dams make a concerted military effort necessary) and DPRK newsreel footage boast tall, strong-looking North Korean troops with new equipment, weapons, jeeps, and full meals. Deeper inside the Hermit Kingdom, however, the Army starts to look a bit thin. On a 2012 trip to North Korea, the author found most Korean People’s Army (KPA) troops to be weak and used mainly for conscripted labor. It would have been a real surprise if they all had shoes or could walk in a real formation. Most units appeared lightly armed if armed at all." There you go. We, as a nation, were all freaked out by a military that was mostly unarmed and didn't even have shoes. Fake news!
12 Weakest: Iraq
Remember how scary Iraq used to be? Of course, the United States totally kicked their butts, whether you agree with that war or not. But at the time, they did seem to have some sort of ability to make a little bit of noise on the world stage. Not anymore. Miltary.com says, "What may have been the 4th largest army in the world under Saddam Hussein is now a shadow of its former self. Despite years of training from U.S. and British forces, as well as $26 billion in investments and military aid, the Iraqi Army has only 26 units considered 'loyal.' On top of that, Iraqi lawmakers discovered 50,000 'ghost soldiers' in its ranks—troops who received a paycheque but never showed up for work. In 2014, ISIS was able to overrun much of Western Iraq as Iraqi troops fled before the Islamist onslaught." Some of these countries just have never been able to compete on the world stage when it comes to military might, while others tried to compete and were slapped back down. Iraq is one of those countries.
11 Weakest: Costa Rica
Well, in theory, Costa Rica is tied for the worst military in the world with other countries such as Iceland, Mauritius, Monaco, Panama, and Vanuatu. This is because they don't have one. USA Today says, "One Central American neighbor remains an island of political stability, economic prosperity, and contentment: Costa Rica. The country's secret is something that virtually no other country in the world can claim—no standing army. It has used the savings from defense spending to improve education, healthcare, and a durable social safety net. In 2018, Costa Rica will mark its 70th anniversary since it abolished its military, and that seems to suit the population. It ranked first in Latin America and 12th in the world in happiness, according to the 2017 World Happiness Index. The Happy Planet Index ranked it No. 1 in the world." And According to military.com, "The Costa Ricans have to be at the bottom of the list, as they have no armed forces to speak of. What they do have is an Army of wealthy Westerners who comes to teach Yoga to other Westerners visiting Costa Rica. But no one will ever want to invade Costa Rica because these people will have to come with it."
See, how cool is that? Maybe the USA and Russia don't need an army either! Yay! Actually, that freaks me out. Forget I said that.
10 Strongest: Russia
Uh oh... the Russians. Man, there's nothing scarier than the Russian military, unless you're actually a Russian. Then, you probably find your military quite comforting. A lot of people from America grew up thinking the Russians were going to attack us at any minute, and while that never happened, they still are just plain old freaky to a lot of people. Check these numbers.
Total military personnel: 3,712,500, total aircraft strength: 2,955, and a defence budget of $161.7 billion.
Yeah, that's a lot of cash, but they still come in second, just barely, mostly because, at one point, they fell well behind the United States in technology. According to PBS.org "In terms of military prowess, Russia is trying to rebuild itself. After the five-day war with Georgia in 2008, the weaknesses in the Russian military were exposed. Since then, the Russian military has undergone an overhaul to make its army more professional and modern and replace its old equipment that languished after its Soviet days."
9 Strongest: China
China scares just about everyone, unless, of course, you're Chinese. Then, you're all like "Man, my military is totally cool." While they don't have a ton of aircraft when compared to the United States or Russia, they have a whopping 4,207,250 people in their military and have a pretty huge budget, too. And plus, who really knows what these guys are up to? While most other countries have a whole bunch of different allies and work as a part of some sort of a team, China has always been a bunch of total wild cards. It's sort of like you're a really big guy and you live in this house on a quiet street; then, all of a sudden, a family of 10 dwarves moves in next door. These guys are all totally loud, and honestly, they seem as if they might be more than a little bit crazy. Every time you go outside to sit on your porch, they yell at you and call you names. You know you could take any one of them on all by yourself, but the thing is, they stick together, so you don't dare go at them. Yeah, that's what China is like.
8 Strongest: India
Are you a bit surprised that India is 4th in the world in military strength? I know that I kind of was. I mean, I know that they aren't anyone who's pushed around easily, just because of their vast population, but I never thought of them as a military superpower.
They have over 4 million people in the military, which puts them in line with the previous countries and have a budget of 35 billion.
India worries a lot about China, just like everyone else. TheDiplomat.com says, "It's going to be very difficult for India to match the Chinese defense budget, and it would be foolish even to try. But India could potentially attempt to generate greater military power by using its much more limited financial capacity more wisely. For example, India today has the world’s largest standing army, whose pension and salaries alone are sinking the Indian defence budget. India has to consider reducing the size of its army so that it can build a smaller but more capable force."
7 Strongest: France
Oh man. The French. What is it about the French that makes them so irritating to so many people? Well, whatever it is, most people aren't going to say how irritated they are to their faces because France's military is the 5th strongest in the world. They have around only 390,000 people in the military, but one has to remember they have a much smaller country than all the others on the list so far, and their budget is still a very healthy 35 billion dollars. The French spend a lot of time working on eliminating the more extreme aspects of the Islamic State, both at home and abroad. According to the site warisboring.com, "After those attacks, the French government announced an increase to its military budget by $4.2 billion over the next several years, with the bulk of the spending directed into homeland security. The French government will permanently dedicate 7,000 soldiers to homeland security to counter the threat of terrorist attacks." That's cool, but people still hate the French.
6 Strongest: United Kingdom
The United Kingdom always has a pretty strong military that's almost always aligned with the United States. This is kind of a double-edged sword because, on the one hand, no one ever messes with the U.K., at least all that much because it means that they would have to deal with the United States if they did. On the other hand, every time the United States gets involved with anything, the U.K. gets dragged into it, too.
They have around only 230,000 military personnel, but they still have a really healthy military budget of around $45 billion.
The whole thing, meaning how tight the United Kingdom is with the United States, is kind of ironic, considering the whole Revolutionary War thing way back in the day. It's almost like that time when you and your best friend went out and drank way too much and got in a huge fight and didn't talk to each other for 6 months, then decided that the whole thing was silly and just forgot about it all and went out and got drunk again.
5 Strongest: Japan
You knew Japan was going to be here somewhere. Even though they don't have a big reputation as a military superpower, they're arguably known to be the most technologically advanced country in the world. And what's cooler to think about when it comes to technology than building a bunch of really awesome weapons? They have around only 310,000 people active in their military but have a large budget of around 44 billion. When you think about it, who would possibly mess with Japan? You could go rolling across the border with your tanks, and then, all of a sudden, a whole bunch of flying robots could show up to attack you. You have no idea what these people are capable of. You know how sometimes bullies mess with people that they think are smaller or weaker than they are but not if they think that the person could get back at them. Japan is like that. Sure, you could push them into a puddle and make them cry, but you know then, they're going to plot to get back at you.
4 Strongest: Turkey
Turkey is one of those countries that you might not expect to be on this list, but I'm telling you, don't sleep on Turkey. Well, at least when it comes to the military. When it comes to having turkey at Thanksgiving, go ahead and take a nap. You deserve it. This is the beginning of a pretty big drop when it comes to military budgets, as Turkey has a budget of around only 8 billion, although they do have around 750,000 military personnel. One thing that makes some people nervous about Turkey is they're kind of tight with Russia, even buying missiles from them. According to military.com, "Russian President Vladimir Putin pressed ahead Tuesday with the $2.5-billion sale of S-400 anti-air missiles to Turkey in a deal reached over the objections of the U.S. and other NATO allies. 'A priority task in the sphere of military-technical cooperation is the implementation of the contract for supplies of S-400 Triumf missile systems to Turkey,' Putin said at the start of a two-day visit to Turkey."
3 Strongest: Germany
Ahh, the Germans. Ever since they tried to pretty much take over the entire world back in the day, most people weren't all that much in favor of them having a strong military. Of course, today's Germany has an entirely different vibe than it used to. They have around 200,000 soldiers and have a pretty massive budget of around 39 billion dollars, so they are no one to take lightly. Those numbers are impressive, but they have been falling behind. According to Business Insider, "Over the past several months, the entirety of Germany's submarine fleet has gone out of action; the Bundeswehr, its armed forces, has outsourced helicopter training to a private company because its own helicopters are in need of repair, and more than half of the Bundeswehr's Leopard 2 tanks, its most common model, were out of order, with just 95 of 244 in service." Germany really needs to pull it together. Just not so much that they think of taking over the world again.
2 Strongest: Egypt
Rounding out the ten countries in the world you almost certainly don't want to mess with is Egypt. They have a tiny budget compared to the others on this list of around only 4 billion, but they have well over 1,300,000 military personnel, which is a lot, no matter how you look at it. Right now, their biggest threat is ISIS, and they're going on the offensive. Aljazzera.com writes, "A rights group has accused the Egyptian army of unlawfully destroying thousands of homes, businesses, and farmland in northern Sinai as part of its campaign against the ISIL group. Using satellite imagery and local testimony, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Tuesday that many lifelong residents of Sinai have been displaced as a result of at least 3,000 homes and commercial buildings being destroyed by the Egyptian military. The army is waging a campaign in the area against a group affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)." Go get'em, Egypt!
1 Strongest: United States
USA! USA! You probably aren't too surprised that the United States of America made this list. We have well over 3 million military personnel, almost 4,000 fighter aircraft, and a defence budget of over 44 billion dollars. The United States has been pretty much the military superpower for a very long time, and that doesn't seem to be changing any time soon; in fact, it seems like we're even more focused on a strong military than ever. The United States has always taken a lot of pride in being the big dog in the military world, and with Trump in charge, that's going to continue for the time being. According to Military.com, "the U.S. Armed Forces are made up of the five armed service branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. There are three general categories of military people: active duty (full-time soldiers and sailors), reserve & guard forces (usually work a civilian job, but can be called to full-time military duty), and veterans and retirees (past members of the military)."
Sources: businessinsider.com; military.com