The world's biggest armies

The army serves as a critical component of the military forces of many nations across the globe, comprising almost solely of land forces. Army-technology.com lists the biggest armies in the world by troop numbers.


The world's biggest armies

People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF), China

The People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) of China is the world's biggest army, deploying about 1.25 million active troops. Established in August 1927, the PLAGF is one of the major military divisions of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

The PLA operates under the command of the Central Military Commission. The active ground forces of the army are deployed across seven military regions in the country.

China is the second largest military spender in the world after the US. The official defence spending of the country reached $106 billion in 2012.

United States Army

The US Army is one of the three military departments (army, navy and air force) working under the Department of Defence. It is mainly composed of active and reserve components.

The US Army employs more than 1.1 million active duty, reserve and National Guard members. The nation spent $668bn on defence in 2012.

The US Army utilises modern weaponry including tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, self-propelled and towed artillery, as well as missiles and rocket launching systems.

Indian Army

The Indian Army, constituting of 1.1 million troops, is one of the largest armies in the world. Commanded by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), the army employs a regimental system divided into mountain divisions and infantry divisions, as well as armoured and mechanised divisions.

The Indian Army is equipped with T-72 and Arjun tanks, BMP series infantry fighting vehicles, anti-tank guided missiles, helicopters, fast reconnaissance vehicles, modern individual weapons, self-propelled artillery and air defence missiles.

Korean People's Army Ground Force (KPAGF)

The Korean People's Army Ground Force (KPAGF) is the major arm of the North Korea's Korean People's Army. Established in August 1947, the KPAGF is estimated to have a current strength of 950,000 troops.

The North Korean ground force holds the arsenal of 4,100 tanks, 2,100 armoured vehicles, 8,500 field artillery systems and 5,100 multiple rocket launchers, according to US Department of Defence records.

Most of the artillery and missile systems are positioned close to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea.

Pakistan Army

The Pakistan Army was formed in 1947 after independence from the British Empire. The army currently employs about 725,000 active forces, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Additionally, 500,000 strong reserve forces make the Pakistan Army one of the biggest in the world.

The Pakistan Army engaged in three major wars against India. Most of the weapons used by the armed forces are of Chinese, European or American origin. The inventory mainly comprises of small arms, armoured vehicles, artillery, helicopters and air defence systems.

Republic of Korea Army (ROK Army)

The South Korean Army was formed in 1948 after the division of Korea into two nations. The Republic of Korea Army (ROK Army) is the ground-based force of the South Korean armed forces. The ROK Army, with the strength of 506,000 troops, is the largest of three divisions.

The army has been going through rapid modernisation, resulting in the induction of a range of advanced weapons and military technologies. The inventory of land forces is believed to comprise about 2,700 tanks, 2,700 armoured vehicles, as well as more than 5,000 artillery pieces and multiple rocket launching systems.

Ground Forces of the Russian Federation

The Ground Forces of the Russian Federation or the Russian Army is the major component of the Armed Forces of Russia.

The Russian Army was established in May 1992, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The ground force is controlled by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The Ground Forces withdrew a large number of troops aboard the former Soviet garrisons and also simplified the command and control structures. The Ground Forces of the Russian Federation currently deploys 350,000 to 400,000 troops.

Egyptian Army

The Egyptian Army is the largest service within the Egyptian Armed Forces, with about 340,000 troops excluding reserved forces. It formed the second biggest contingent of allied troops, which were deployed in Operation Desert Storm.

The Egyptian Army is largely equipped with US-made weapons and also holds an inventory of Soviet-era arms and Chinese weapons, as well as indigenous combat systems. Egypt receives about $1.5bn in military aid from the US each year, making it the second largest recipient of military aid after Israel.

Turkish Army

The Turkish Army, also known as the Turkish Land Forces, is organised into Western Army, Eastern Army, 3rd Army and Aegean Army. The land force of Turkey reportedly employs 391,000 personnel.

The Turkish armed forces saw a massive modernisation after joining the Nato in 1952. Altay tank, T-LORAMIDS air-defence missile system, T-70 utility helicopter and T129 attack helicopter are some of the modern combat platforms being inducted into the Turkish military.

Islamic Republic of Iran Army (IRIA)

The Islamic Republic of Iranian Army (IRIA) was established in 1925. The Iranian Army is currently estimated to field 350,000 active personnel. The IRIA relied on the US weapons until the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Iran manufactured a range of weapons and combat systems since 1979. The current inventory constitutes tanks such as the locally produced Zulfiqar, armored personnel carriers and motorised and towed artillery pieces.

Defence Technology

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