These are the ten most powerful militaries in the world

Each year, the website Global Firepower ranks countries in what they call the “global firepower index,” a ranking of the world’s 126 most powerful militaries. The index uses a 50-point algorithm to determine a nation’s military power. Their system focuses on the diversity of weapons systems and provides bonuses and penalties for things like nuclear arms, diversity of force structures, and alliances (like NATO). The formula is interesting because it makes a smaller but more technologically advanced country competitive with larger militaries from less advanced countries.

Here are the top ten:

10. Italy

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Italian Soldier from the Folgore Parachute Brigade.

Italy has a large drop off in available manpower and military aged persons. Italy outnumbers the Germans in almost every area, from aircraft and land forces to seapower. And while Italy has almost twice the resource availability, it has half the labor force to work those resources.

9. Germany

During exercise Joint Resolve 26, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), soldiers from the German Battle Group's 2nd Reinforced Infantry Company, armed with Heckler and Koch automatic assault rifles, seek to capture French soldiers playing the role of paramilitary extremists, near a paramilitary training camp in the town of Pazaric.

During exercise Joint Resolve 26, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), soldiers from the German Battle Group’s 2nd Reinforced Infantry Company, armed with Heckler and Koch automatic assault rifles, seek to capture French soldiers playing the role of paramilitary extremists, near a paramilitary training camp in the town of Pazaric.

Germany’s economy is significantly superior to Turkey’s, even though Turkey has half the annual defense budget. Still, Germany can’t keep up in available manpower.

8. Turkey

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Turkey’s large manpower reserve and land forces put it next to Japan. Its large external debt and lack of diversity in naval power keep the gap between numbers 7 and 8 quite big, however. It’s important to note Turkey is also a member of NATO and its military is probably designed around the wars it is most likely to have to fight.

7. Japan

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A Standard Missile-3 is launched from the Japanese Aegis Destroyer JS Kongo (DDG 173) enroute to an intercept of a target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

While the Japanese have an available manpower that seems to dwarf the British, their force is (by law) for homeland defense, which focuses on seapower and artillery. Their economy far surpasses the UK’s, however.

6. United Kingdom

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(Ministry of Defence photo)

The UK and the French look remarkably similar at first, but the real disparity is in fixed wing aircraft, fleet strength, and economics. The French have less foreign debt and operate a larger military despite a much smaller defense budget.

5. France

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French troops in Cote d’ivoire in 2003.

Despite the looming specter of WWII failure, the French are very good at projecting regional power, especially in their former colonial sphere of influence.

4. India

Indian army infantry vehicles move onto the firing range at Camp Bundela, India Oct. 26, 2009. Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, based out of Hawaii traveled with 17 of their Strykers to India for two weeks to train with the Indian army.

Indian army infantry vehicles move onto the firing range at Camp Bundela, India Oct. 26, 2009.

Unfortunately for India’s chief rival Pakistan, India is the fourth most powerful force on the planet, while the Pakistanis sit at #13.

3. China

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Aside from leading in manpower, the Chinese also have trillions in foreign currency reserves and purchasing power.

2. Russia

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Russia is first in terms of geographical land mass, which is important for defensive wars, especially when it comes to external invaders.

1. United States

An M1A2 Abrams tank fires at a target at a live-fire range near Camp Buehring, during Exercise Eager Mace 13, Nov. 14. Marines from Tanks Platoon, India Company Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, alongside the U.S. Army were teaching members of the Kuwait Armed Forces how to assault an enemy force. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are participating in the bilateral training exercise with the Kuwait Armed Forces to expand levels of cooperation, enhance mutual maritime capabilities and promote long-term regional stability and interoperability between U.S. forces and regional partners. The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Childers/Released)

Is anyone really surprised by this? The U.S. may not top manpower, but they do beat all in terms of land systems. airpower, and naval force, along with a host of other factors, like logistics.

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