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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Which country has the most powerful military?

This is a topic that has been debated endlessly. Debated with renewed vigor now after the emergence of China on the world stage, rebirth of Russia and the rise of regional military powers like India.

The current title holder is indisputably the Military of the United states. I don't think it is ever in the danger of losing its title to anyone else anytime soon. Military hegemony is not just sheer numbers or shiny new guns its much much more than that.. Read on to find out how I, a layman, think that the US is by far the most formidable military force in the world.


What makes any country tick? Militarily? First and foremost, money.. Hard cash to fuel your resources, billions need to be sunk into R & D, millions need to be spent on salaries and infrastructure.

According to my trusty side-kick (read wikipedia), the world spent 1.46 trillion dollars (1,400 billions) on Defence in 2008. The split-ups go down something like this

1. USA - 607 Billion (Holy!!!!)
2. China - 85 Billion
3. France & UK - 66 Billion each
Followed by Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, Saudi Arabia and India.

India finishes 2008 at 10th place with 30 Billion. These 10 countries account for almost 1.1 trillion of the 1.46 trillion global defence expenditure.

The US comes on top, with a mind numbing 600 billion in defence spending! That number is higher than the combined GDP of all third world countries. Its nearest competitor is China, a distant second with 85 billion and the rest of the countries in the top 10 list do not even come close to being considered comparable to the spending that the US is capable of. With the world's largest economy and the worlds most advanced industrial facilities in its disposal, the US has a clear and distinct advantage over all the other countries in the world. Almost all of the 600 billion is circled back into the country and it is almost like a stimulus for the economy!

The US also has the most talented pool of scientists and researchers in the world. With top research institutions spearheading the R&D activities, the US military leads to world in introducing new technology in battle space and it does so in style. For example, the GPS which is now a common household term was pioneered by the US military and made available to the world for free (a propaganda move nonetheless). Similiar technological marvels like the SR-71, the B-2 bomber, the F-22 fighter and the Nimitz class Supercarriers keep coming out of the American military stables..

Vast resources also come with enhanced ability to sustain and prolong the war-waging capability of a nation. More resources allow you to have a better supply chain to the war machine.

Numerical and technological Superiority:

Wars are no longer attritional. But numbers are still a vital part of a country's war waging potential.

Let's pull in my side-kick again...

According to Wikipedia (which has in fact done a fantastic job of putting the numbers together), China has a military that dwarfs the US and any other country in terms of personnel. The US comes second in the list followed by India.

The world, as we know it, is dominated by countries that have better technology and in this world, it is the US of A. And the US beats all the other countries hands down when it comes to state-of-the-art technologies and using them to make path-breaking equipment.

The Americans have successfully turned their soldiers into effective fighting units with futuristic technologies, technology that will help the soldiers stay alive in raging battles and assure him/her that help is not far away. Each soldier has tools and gadgets that give him a tactical edge over his adversaries (Night vision goggles, Laser designators, light-weight body armor, weapons, high-tech encrypted communication and nutrition). Thats just the beginning, I am yet to start on their heavy battle equipment, from microlight unmanned aerial vehicles to massive 100,000 tonne aircraft carriers, they have them all. The highly advanced military hardware combined with their network centric war doctrine act as an awesome force multiplier. Here is a quick mention of some of front line military hardware fielded by the US military.

The B-2 bomber: One of the costliest aircrafts ever made. Can penetrate thickest of air-defences and silence them. Considered the finest stealth bomber in the World. The B-2 is usually trusted with 'starting off' USA's war campaigns and it has always delivered.

The F-22 Fighter: Considered the foremost among fighters in the world with a lethal mix of stealth, supercruise and super-maneuverability. Though it has not seen combat yet, this would be a force to reckon in all future engagements of the US military.

The Aegis BMD system: A mature system with almost 20 successful tests so far is one of the few deployed missile defence systems in the world. The THAAD, considered the land version of the Aegis is equally mature and extensively deployed.

The Nimitz class Supercarriers: Heaviest military vessels ever built, and carries close to 90 aircrafts on board, a single aircraft carrier has enough punch and firepower to defeat the military of most countries in the world. And the US Navy has 10 of them! (Bloody hell)

and much much more...

Battlefield experience:

How do you train your military? Ask your soldiers to assemble in the Projection room, turn on CNN and watch how two countries beat the crap out of each other?

Obviously, no. Experience is gathered from waging wars, though training and strategy can be drafted anytime, but they can be evaluated only in an actual war. US has been involved in around 20 wars since 1945, either directly or indirectly, though that doesn't do much to enhance its image as a 'peacekeeper', it sure as hell enriches its war waging experience. Imagine the wealth of knowledge that the American battle commanders would posses and imagine the difference that it would make tactically. When battle experience combines with the advanced weaponry and superior training, an unbeatable military machine results. The numerous battles fought would mean that when war breaks out again, it will not be lead and fought by fresh hands yearning to test out their skills, but by battle-hardened veterans, who can out think and out do their adversaries.

So, what am I trying to do here? I am just trying to show something like "1+1 gottabe 2". The raw data is available for all to see and the question of who own the most powerful military seems a bit naive
From the Koreas to Panama the American military machine has seen unforgiving terrains, formidable opponents, unforeseen enemy tactics, unyielding defences, bitter upsets and sweet triumphs. More than the triumphs the defeats have made them stronger, more determined and a ruthless wager of wars. The Americans have a foreign policy that does lot of talking and muscle flexing and their military does all the "walking of the talks" if the need arises. One cannot win global influence by just condemning inhuman acts, global influence is earned by getting down on the ground and fixing the bad guys and no one does it better than Uncle Sam.

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