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  • It was twice in forty years when Europe became a flashpoint and the entire world went to

  • war.

  • In both World War I and World War II, the majority of the world's armies picked a

  • side and pitted superpower against superpower.

  • In the aftermath of the carnage, the world determined that this must never happen again,

  • and military conflicts since then have been much smaller scale - mostly pitting one country

  • against each other in localized conflicts.

  • But what if it happened again?

  • If another World War broke out, it would be happening on a very different playing field

  • than the early 20th century.

  • Countries that were powerhouses have scaled back their armies, and bit players and neutral

  • powers in the World Wars have become massive military players.

  • In today's world, who would be the countries that could tilt the balance of a massive global

  • conflict?

  • Who are the top ten most powerful militaries in 2020?

  • #10.

  • Brazil

  • Brazil isn't where you'd think to look for a military powerhouse, as South America

  • is not typically the site of major military conflicts.

  • But Brazil is the 6th largest country by population in the world, and the fast-growing and diverse

  • nation is home to the Amazon rainforest, one of the world's most unique biospheres.

  • That means they need a good military to manage a complex set of affairs - and to fend off

  • any criminal elements or foreign invaders looking to profit off their unique resources.

  • With an Army, Navy, and Air Force, their armed forces are the second-largest in the Americas

  • and have over 334,000 active-duty members.

  • But what's the secret to Brazil's recruitment efforts?

  • They don't have to recruit!

  • Brazil is one of several countries on this list with conscription, and every 18-45 year

  • old male in the country has to do ten to twelve months of national service.

  • That means they have over 1.3 million reserve members, because discharged conscripts who

  • underwent the training can be called up to defend the country in a crisis.

  • But Brazil's military has one of the more eclectic missions of any country on this list,

  • frequently being deployed to handle civic action programs like construction.

  • They're also sent abroad on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, and to protect

  • the Amazon rainforest from hazards.

  • Brazil's military is growing fast - but not quite as fast as the next country on the

  • list.

  • #9.

  • Egypt

  • Egypt has always been one of the most powerful and modern countries in the Middle East, but

  • their military didn't always have the best record.

  • They were involved in four wars against the new nation of Israel from the 1940s to the

  • 1970s - and lost all four!

  • But a 1978 peace treaty turned that page, and since then Egypt has made the most of

  • their military strength.

  • With a state military organization under the command of the President - who has been a

  • military dictator for most of the last few decades - they have four divisions ready for

  • combat.

  • An Army, Navy, and Air Force are joined by a special Air Defense Forces designed to protect

  • Egypt from air-based attacks.

  • As the only Arab state with a reconnaissance satellite, they're considered to have a

  • state-of-the-art military ready to repel any sneak attacks.

  • With a standing military of 468,000 and over 500,000 reserves, Egypt maintains a one to

  • three-year conscription term for all men 18 to 49.

  • They're not hurting for manpower, but their biggest advantage is their good diplomatic

  • relations with the rest of the world.

  • They used to rely on outdated Soviet weaponry from their cold war alliance, but now they

  • get the best hardware through deals with the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.

  • And they need it - the Middle East is a flashpoint, and the Egyptian military has been key in

  • hunting down and ending the threat of groups like ISIS.

  • Egypt's army is rising fast, but the next military on this list is one of the oldest

  • - and still going strong.

  • #8.

  • United Kingdom

  • Rule Britannia!

  • The United Kingdom is no stranger to a strong military, as they ruled much of the world

  • at the height of the British empire.

  • Sure, there was that unfortunate business with the colonies, but the British Armed Forces

  • came out on top in both World Wars, and the military that's been going strong since

  • 1707 is advancing with the times.

  • Composed of the Royal Navy, the British Army, the Royal Marines, and the Royal Air Force,

  • the British Armed Forces have about 150,000 active-duty members and 45,000 reserve members.

  • One of the smallest militaries on the list, but the United Kingdom is an entirely volunteer

  • force.

  • Their focus is on elite soldiers, not massive manpower - and it's not hard to see why

  • when you see their hardware.

  • A founding member of the NATO military alliance, the British Armed Forces are on guard to step

  • in should any member be invaded.

  • With military bases around the world, their Navy has 77 commissioned ships including destroyers

  • and frigates.

  • And while the British Armed Forces are mainly a defensive force now, they are ready for

  • another massive conflict - including a nuclear one.

  • Trident, the UK's nuclear defense system, has an arsenal of 120 usable warheads that

  • can be launched either from bases or from ships.

  • The British Armed Forces aren't the world's most powerful anymore, but the island nation

  • is still well guarded.

  • But they may just be looking enviously right across the English Channel.

  • 7.

  • France

  • Wait, France?

  • The country known for fine wine and art museums may not be first on everyone's mind as a

  • military powerhouse, but they actually have the largest armed forces in the European Union.

  • With 203,000 active duty members, this all-volunteer military is divided into five divisions - the

  • French Army, French Navy, French Air Force, National Guard, and the National Gendarmerie,

  • a national police force.

  • All answer to the President of France, and there are currently 11,000 French military

  • personnel deployed worldwide.

  • A charter member of NATO, the French military is focused on national independence and self-sufficiency

  • in the post-Cold War era - but that doesn't mean its military arsenal is to be trifled

  • with.

  • One of the fiveNuclear Weapons Statesunder the initial non-proliferation treaty,

  • France has had nuclear weapons since the 1950s.

  • Believed to have up to 300 nuclear warheads with 280 in usable condition, the French military

  • focuses its nuclear arsenal on deterrence.

  • The country rarely gets into military skirmishes independently, but has helped allies in Europe

  • and beyond in military operations.

  • After the brutal occupation of France by Nazi Germany during World War II, France has followed

  • the advice of an American President - it speaks softly and carries a big nuclear stick to

  • deter future invasions.

  • But the next country on the list is no stranger to occupation and invasion either - and it's

  • always on a war footing.

  • #6.

  • South Korea

  • When's the last time you traveled to another state or city?

  • Imagine if the distance of that drive would take you not to a nice day trip, but to a

  • hostile enemy nation.

  • That's the situation South Korea has lived in for decades ever since the Korean War ended.

  • With the constant threat of attack or invasion from North Korea lurking over their head,

  • it's not a surprise they have one of the largest armed forces in the world - almost

  • 600,000 active soldiers and 3 million reserve members.

  • As a country that has to be on a war footing at all times, it's no surprise that South

  • Korea has universal conscription for all male citizens, with everyone doing 18 to 22 months

  • of service.

  • With an Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps under the command of a Joint Chiefs

  • of Staff, South Korea spends 2.7% of their GDP on military spending.

  • Despite a nuclear threat from their neighbors to the north, South Korea has a strict policy

  • of non-proliferation and has not developed nuclear weapons - but that doesn't mean

  • their military isn't to be feared.

  • Thanks to a strong alliance with Japan, Israel, and the United States, they have one of the

  • most technologically advanced militaries and their anti-missile technology is state-of-the-art.

  • South Korea is a large army focused on one constant threat, but their military is deployed

  • in 13 countries around the world.

  • The next country's military might have a dark history, but today's Army looks very

  • different.

  • #5.

  • Japan

  • The newest military on this list, the Japan Self-Defense Forces were formed in the aftermath

  • of World War II.

  • When Japan was defeated along with the rest of the Axis powers, their military was disbanded.

  • In 1954, they were allowed to found a new Armed Forces based around self-defense and

  • peacekeeping.

  • Despite being one of the smallest armed forces on the list at only 300,000 active personnel,

  • their strength isn't in numbers.

  • They're open to all residents 18-32 for voluntary enlistment, but the reason they're

  • a top military power is because of their elite technology.

  • Divided between ground, maritime, and air units, all are among the most state-of-the

  • art forces in the world.

  • Japan's thriving technology sector specializes in anti-ballistic missile deployment, amphibious

  • technology to make it easier for soldiers to function in the water, and an unarmed combat

  • training system that makes every soldier an elite fighter even when disarmed.

  • Their technology and training make Japan a highly sought-after ally, and they have tight

  • military links to South Korea and the United States.

  • The growing threat of North Korea has made some hawkish elements in Japan say the country

  • should move towards a more aggressive stance, but right now the Japan Self-Defense Forces

  • are a powerhouse military content to stay put, only aiding in peacekeeping missions.

  • Japan is a small island nation, but the next militaries on this list are protecting some

  • of the biggest countries in the world.

  • #4.

  • India

  • One of the fastest-growing countries in the world, India is second in population and is

  • wasting no time joining the world's military elites.

  • They're in a tricky military position, with border conflicts aplenty - mostly with long-time

  • rival Pakistan, which was partitioned from them in the 1940s when they gained independence.

  • But in recent years, China has also made aggressive moves on Indian border areas, so it's no

  • surprise India's standing army is large and strong.

  • With 1.4 million active duty personnel and over two million reserves, it's one of the

  • largest non-conscripted militaries in the world - and their military budget is the third-largest

  • in the world.

  • The Indian military is diversified, with a traditional Army, Navy, and Military.

  • But it also encompasses multiple paramilitary divisions including a Coast Guard and specialized

  • forces handling border and railway security.

  • Their Navy has a fully equipped aircraft carrier and a fleet of submarines, but the country's

  • biggest leap forward came when they officially joined the nuclear weapons club.

  • Both India and Pakistan are believed to have over 150 nuclear weapons, keeping each other

  • at bay long-term.

  • But India's nuclear deterrent may be aimed at another neighbor as well.

  • #3.

  • China

  • No country's army is growing faster and making more aggressive moves than the People's

  • Liberation Army of China.

  • Divided into the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and Strategic Support Force,

  • it's the biggest active-duty military force in the world with over two million active

  • members and half a million reserves.

  • And in case the world's most populated country needs more soldiers in a hurry, their universal

  • conscription law has been in effect since the days of Mao Zedong, but it hasn't been

  • enforced in decades.

  • The army of the People's Republic of China is shrouded in secrecy, but their biggest

  • weapon isn't their manpower - it's their strategic warfare.

  • China has gained a reputation for being the most aggressive military for cyberwarfare,

  • as a well-placed hacking attack can easily destabilize a country or reveal its biggest

  • secrets.

  • They officially founded a cyber security squad in 2011.

  • Their satellites are among the most advanced in the world, making them a major power as

  • the race to space becomes the next military frontier.

  • While most of China's military conflicts in recent years have been border skirmishes,

  • they're well-equipped for a larger conflict - with over 240 nuclear warheads in usable

  • shape.

  • China might be rising, but while the next country's biggest days are behind it, it

  • shouldn't be underestimated.

  • #2.

  • Russia

  • At the height of the Cold War, Russia and the United States were constantly boosting

  • their military and weapons to try to keep pace with the other.

  • While that conflict has been on the back burner for a long time, Russia remains one of the

  • biggest military powers in the world.

  • With 900,000 active military personnel and two million reserves, it's still one of

  • the largest standing militaries - primarily due to their strict conscription law, which

  • requires every Russian male age 18-27 to serve 12 months in the services.

  • At 3.9% of their GDP, Russia also has one of the largest per capita spending of any

  • country - and it shows in their massive arsenal.

  • During the Cold War, Russia and the United States kept each other at bay with mutually

  • assured destruction - having such a powerful arsenal of nuclear weapons that neither side

  • could survive all-out war.

  • Those weapons were never used, and Russia now has over 6,000 nuclear weapons - although

  • over 2,500 of them are no longer usable.

  • Their Ground Forces, Aerospace Forces, and Navy are backed up by multiple special and

  • logistical divisions, and while Russia's technology and weapons may trend older, it

  • hasn't stopped them from aggressive moves in Eastern Europe like the recent annexation

  • of Crimea.

  • But there's one military they've never been able to catch.

  • #1.

  • United States of America

  • The Army.

  • The Navy.

  • The Marines.

  • The Air Force.

  • The Coast Guard.

  • And we can't forget the newest division - Space Force.

  • They come together into the United States Armed Forces, a powerhouse military with 1.3

  • million active members and almost 900,000 reserve members.

  • While the United States has had a draft during many major wars, they're an all-volunteer

  • force for now - although it's required for all men 18-25 to register for Selective Service

  • in case conscription is needed.

  • The USA may not have the biggest army in the world, but their spending of 721 billion annually

  • puts them at #1 - and it shows in a massive technologically advanced military that's

  • deployed around the world.

  • Every division of the US military is the largest of its kind in the world, and the country