Today’s Top Ten Armies (Military Powers) in the World

This list of Top Ten Armies (Military Powers) in the world is subjective at best.  Unless you looked at specific aspects and judged based on that criteria alone, the list cannot be definitive.  One can look at a nation’s defense budget or the size of their enlisted members, or combine the two.  Another area for consideration is the amount of armor a nation has inventoried including tanks, helicopters, aircraft and ships.  This top ten took in a little of all of that, but it is still one perspective looking at the Armies around the world.  Input and educational pieces on other armies not listed here, or any additional information that may have been omitted, are welcomed.   Before listing the top ten, one country fell just short of making the list, but certainly deserves to be mentioned – North Korea.  They not only have one of the largest Special Forces in the world – 120,000 members – they have a very large inventory of armor.   10.  Pakistan Pakistan is known for their good upper leadership.  Founded in 1947, their three branches of service totals more than 600,000 people – all volunteers.  They have close ties to the militaries of the US and China.  Pakistan’s budget of over $5 billion is smaller than all the other top ten militaries, but it does exceed the overall defense budget of a number of other countries around the world.  While Pakistan has about the same number of naval craft as the United Kingdom (see below), they have more aircraft and helicopters and an incredible total of 9,000 tanks and armored vehicles.  They...

Admiral William H. McRaven and Operation Neptune Spear

Admiral William H. McRaven – currently a four-star Admiral of the United States Navy – was born on November 6, 1955 in Pinehurst, NC.  Admiral McRaven, commander of the US Joint Special Operations Command, is most recently noted for his involvement in Operation Neptune Spear, in which US Navy Special forces DEVGRU, hunted, located and killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.  Click here to view a brief Armed Forces History Museum video on the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”  Before the Attack Admiral McRaven has held every level of command within special operations.  On September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the United States McRaven, then a Navy SEAL Captain, was in the hospital recuperating from a sky diving accident that left him with a broken pelvis and back.   The four SEAL teams under McRaven’s command had trained for such an incident, but McRaven soon found it necessary to step down from command.    A decade later, William H. McRaven - recovered from his injuries - had risen up through the ranks.  Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden had remained evasive and was still alive.  Their paths were now destined to cross.    The Planning Begins Reports mention that then Vice-Admiral McRaven, commander of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, was called to the CIA’s headquarters in Langely, VA by its director, Leon Panetta.  The two discussed the compound where bin Laden was thought to hiding and began to lay the plans for a military strike.  For the next several weeks, Admiral McRaven would use his covert background while working with the CIA on this plan.  He devised three possible options: 1)     ...

US Marine’s FAST Company Deployed to Libya

In response to the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in Libya, a US Marine’s FAST (Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team) Company was deployed.  It is believed the team was sent first to Tripoli, not Benghazi.   As US military officials announced the deployment of FAST, they further stated that no further action was being taken to deploy any additional troops, ships or aircraft as a result of the attack.  A second FAST team was being held in Spain on stand-by awaiting further orders.  Some speculated the Pentagon would deploy Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) to prepare for a broader, more pro-active measure.   US embassies generally have a resident contingent of Marine security guards in countries that are unstable and/or less secure.  Their primary role is to provide protection for classified national security documents.  The secondary role of this elite team started in 1948 to provide protection to US citizens, as well as US government property, in the event of an emergency.   A Closer Look at FAST The US Marine’s FAST team was first established in 1987 in response to a growing need for quick response time when providing protection to US citizens abroad.  Since that time, FAST has been involved in a number of missions.  They were sent to Panama to support Operation Just Cause in 1989, to Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 when the US embassies were bombed and to Port of Aden, Yemen in 2000 when the USS Cole was bombed.  Currently, FAST reinforces security at US embassies in Liberia, Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan.   Each US Marine FAST...

Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion

The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion was introduced in 1981 seven years after its initial flight on March 1, 1974.  Modeled after the CH-53 Sea Stallion, the Super Stallion was designed with a third engine and seven main rotor blades and some changes in the tail rotor.  Built mainly for the US Marine Corps, the MH-53E Sea Dragon variant is used by the US Navy for mine sweeping and to perform heavy lifting.   Design and Development In 1962, the US marines opened a competition in search of an experimental heavy helicopter.  Sikorsky’s S-65 was chosen and designated the CH-53A Sea Stallion.  Delivery began in 1966.  Several variants followed including the well-known “Super Jolly Green Giant” (HH-53B/C) used by the US Air Force for their Special Operations and combat rescue and first dispatched during the Vietnam War.   By October of 1967, the U.S. Marine Corps required a heavy lift helicopter whose capacity could almost double that of the CH-53D, yet still able to fit on amphibious vehicles for transporting.  The Army and Navy were looking into a similar type aircraft.   Sikorsky had already begun upgrades on the CH-53D with adding a third turbo shaft engine and upgrading the power of the rotor system.  Once presented to the US Marine Corps, they provided the necessary funds to produce a test helicopter they could use for evaluation.  In addition to the third engine and rotor system power, the new variant (YCH-53E) included a number of updates including the following: Stronger transmission Seventh rotor blade Titanium-fiberglass composite rotor blades Longer fuselage Change in the tail mount Automatic Flight Control System  ...

WWII Special Forces – Royal Marines Commando

This WWII Special Forces – Royal Marines Commando – began as a separate commando unit in 1940.  Then in 1942, they became a part of the Royal Marines.  During the war, the Royal Marines began their commando role, linking themselves to the Army Commandos, which were already in existence.   Step back in time as you step into the Firearms and Ordnance Gallery at the Armed Forces History Museum.  Here, reality awakens within, as you marvel at the weapons and feel the power of destruction housed throughout this extensive gallery.  Authentic weapons (including some used by Special Forces) from around the world dating throughout history can be witnessed in this astonishing collection.  The oldest piece on display is a very rare bayonet from the Revolutionary War.     Winston Churchill Requests a Commando Group The commando group was first ordered by Winston Churchill who wanted to establish a small “butcher and bolt” raider unit.  With the defeat at Dunkirk and the British Expeditionary Force being evacuated from mainland Europe, the country’s morale was believed to be low and in need of a boost.  At the time, Britain’s military was in no position to instigate any type of major attack on the Germans.  Churchill felt that a series of smaller – more spectacular – missions would in fact assist with raising public morale.   The commandos would land in Nazi-occupied areas – generally at night – destroy intended targets and then evacuate quickly.  By June of 1940, Winston Churchill summoned 20,000 men to be called up and ready to go for the throats of the Germans.  He called these men...

WWII Special Forces – US Rangers

Once the United States became involved in WWII, US Army Officials in Great Britain realized a need for a unit similar to the British Commandos and submitted a proposal that would eventually lead to the birth of the Special Forces – US Rangers.   Step back in time as you step into the Firearms and Ordnance Gallery at the Armed Forces History Museum.  Here, reality awakens within, as you marvel at the weapons and feel the power of destruction housed throughout this extensive gallery.  Authentic weapons (including some used by Special Forces) from around the world dating throughout history can be witnessed in this astonishing collection.  The oldest piece on display is a very rare bayonet from the Revolutionary War.   Newly Formed US Rangers  Captain Orlando Darby, who graduated from the West Point Academy, was the first commander appointed.  Applications for this new unit poured in, but of the thousands received, only few met the stringent standards required.  Captain Darby only had a few weeks to get the few who were accepted organized and ready.  On June 19, 1942, the US Rangers became sanctioned and were ready for their first Special Forces mission.   Missions Over the next few years, this World War II newly formed unit would embark upon several missions.  Some were more successful than others, but in all of them, the US Rangers played a pivotal role.  Their most difficult task would be issued during the infamous D-Day Landings in Normandy.  They were given one of the most difficult landing targets – Point du Hoc.  This area was heavily guarded by the Germans, who had...