Most Powerful Militaries of All Time

The Top Ten
1 USA 1941-Present

I have studied and taught history for many years now. The best quote about the power of the United States was summed up by one man. After the attack on the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the Japanese military celebrated their surprise victory. However, as the legend goes Japanese Admiral Yamamoto who had spent several years in the U.S. said, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." Yamamoto was referring to the industrial power, the economic capabilities, the potential of overwhelming military power, the vastness of America's natural resources, and above all the spirit of its people, that he knew only free men and women have. Today the United States spends more money on its military than the next 10 countries combined. The U.S. is a member of the strongest alliance in history (NATO). To give a brief example of actually power compared to the rest of the world, the United States has over 20 aircraft carriers roaming ...more

The United States military is the most advanced military as of now, and that's thanks to defeating the overly powerful Nazi regime with their allies, they've been the global super power since and have shown that in their ability to outrun the Soviet Union with their unreal military and economic budgets, they rid the Western Hemisphere from colonization and protect the great continents of North and South America from foreign powers. This is a nation that has been beyond powerful since their revolution, whether you believe it or not, they were a sleeping giant even during the 19th century, wars trained our troops, not camps, the Civil War and Spanish and Mexican-American Wars proved that our nation was able to defend and fight, when World War I came, we outsmarted both sides and let them beat each other up, then develop an advanced military quickly and finish it off. World War II we DESTROYED 2 SUPER POWERS ON 2 SIDES OF THE WORLD, considering a lot of the defeat of Japan was thanks to ...more

Although the USA and its citizens did not think that their country can be greatest among countries in the 18th Century, they were wrong. USA, in the 19th Century, fought the mighty Spanish Empire, following it a US victory. The US then expanded their territory into Oceania, halting at China, since the British Empire took control of it. The US then went on to fight in World War I, increasing their rating of strength, then World War II, where they proved to be the strongest nation in the world after taking down the mighty Nazi Regime. The US then went to make the atomic bomb to blow up the Japanese Empire and end the war and then cancelled out the Soviet Union, which was in 2nd place, decades afterward. - Anonymous

In terms of force projection capability, the modern United States Military is the best. While people can argue that the U.S. may not have the toughest Soldiers, they can put thousands of Soldiers, Aircraft, and Missiles anywhere in the world in a matter of hours due to their massive Airforce mobility command, the largest numbers of combat aircraft in the world, the world's largest navy, and their series of bases all over the world. Additionally, the U.S. has very strong military allies all over the world (NATO the world's strongest military alliance) and can count on never having to fight alone. This include the w

2 Nazi Germany 1933-1945

The Nazis may have been evil; but they were also very good at what they did. Adolf Hitler was a highly decorated WW1 German war hero, and a post-war intelligence operative. These skills & experiences compelled Hitler & Nazi Germany to advance warfare exponentially with "blitzkrieg". The Nazis built the world's first modern mechanized military, and the world's first global superpower. The Nazis were a frightening fighting force of disciplined, fanatical warriors using the most high tech, incredibly advanced weapons. Modern-day warfare & tactics were invented by the Nazis, as well as technology that was leaps & bounds ahead of the Allies. Let me put it this way-- If we didn't have the Nazis, we never would have went to the moon or launched satellites. They were THAT advanced and critical to human history.

Despite losing a war against the entire world, this army won the glory. No doubt those fearless warriors, disciplined and stronger than any of their opponents were the biggest horror on the battlefields of Europe. The Eastern allies used to attack them only in proportions higher than 3:1 and the Western allies 2:1 despite the lack of aviation, war economy or manpower that Germany suffered at this time. Their tank aces, aviation aces, submarine aces and so on are light years above all their rivals. And do not forget about how this army is in the center of modern warfare. And every tactic or strategy that is used in our times has its roots back to the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS!

There is no need to say, that the Nazis were stupid and that they could have been a more powerful army at their time, without any doubt. They dodged their intellectual elite, by saying Jews are the enemy and missed some technological advantages, by Hitler being a lunatic and not seeing the real benefits in it. At their time they were the most advanced country on earth, which makes all of what happened even more strange, scary and just wondering, why. But it was the losing in WW1 and the disrespect of the winners which even allowed to get Germany a second chance on the battlefield. At least a lot of Germans felt that. And they were right, like this period has taught us. I mean, which army today needs the hate of all world against it, to get defeated? So imagine, they weakened themselves and still were able to perform a war like this...

Everything to defeat them was invented in Germany, just imagine, that it was just Hitler, who made the German win impossible, because he left his ...more

Germany easily dealt with dozens of other powerful militaries during WW2. They were able to defeat the French in 1940 in a matter of WEEKS, even though the French had a much better land army and had the Maginot Line. Furthermore, they were able to deal with the Allies and Soviets on both fronts for such a long time, inflicting heavy casualties on them.

3 Mongol Empire 1206-1368

Genghis Khan belonged to a small Mongol tribe. Within years, he was able to form an empire stretching from the east coast of China all the way to the Gulf of Finland. His generals were some of the best in history. The Mongols were great archers, too. They were able to shoot arrows while riding on their horses. If that isn't the best army in history, I don't know what is.

Genghis Khan "Chiggis Khan" was unstoppable and merciless who stand on his way. Genghis Khan was kind and merciful who want to serve him. Genghis Khan's vision of Silk road opened us another way to living life and his vision gave us religion freedom first time in human history. Khan was great warrior, great leader, great strategic personality, and also born to be King of World. In Secret History of Mongols Genghis Khan said: "If there is one sun, our world will have one Great King". Lots of people says Genghis Khan was brutal, but what about other mid era king and empires?. 1 in every 200 men descendant of Genghis Khan. Before say something bad every man should take the Y-DNA test. I'm from Mongolia. Also descendant of Genghis Khan proven by Y-DNA result.

By far the first place, the Mongol empire was easily the most powerful. They conquered most of Asia, all of China, built an empire at least three times as big as the Roman Empire, and even stretched out from the Eastern parts of Asia to Europe. However, the Mongols didn’t keep this empire for such a long time.

They were insurmountable as a military force at the height of their power, not because their tech was better, or their numbers greater, but because their tactics were superior and their brute force overwhelming. Undoubtedly the greatest conquerors in history!

4 British Empire 1800-1939

Especially given its size, the British forces of this period and somewhat before, were extremely robust and achieved what no other nation in history has managed, dominance of all the world's oceans ad commerce with an all conquering navy and a small but highly effective army. Fighting over multiple terrains and against a hugely diverse set of opponents they emerged with by far the largest empire the world has ever seen.

It was the greatest empire of all time and took over most of the world. The Nazis were not a powerful army due to their idiotic decisions, the Mongol empire was no match for the scale of the British empire and the USA is not one of the most powerful army's ever because of their small scale and is not comparable with army's that fought hundreds of years ago.

No other country in the world has ruled all the worlds oceans except for these guys. Not to mention that in the period 1803 1815 its army simultaneously fought and emerged victorious against Maratha empire in India, USA in the North America, Napoleonic France across Europe, the Caribbean, and north Africa. eventually creating the largest empire of all time though their efforts.

Given that British naval supremacy over the best part of a century caused a long period of relative peace in the world, something that America's military power today has failed to do, should demonstrate the absolute supremacy enjoyed by Britain in the 19th century

5 Soviet Union 1941-1991

The Soviet Army is probably third on the list for me, the only downfall about Soviet and more modern Russia is that their Navy was weak. This is surprising because of how powerful their Navy was during the 19th and 18th century. Apart from that the Soviet Union and modern Russia has had the biggest land army, the most nuclear missiles and a very good airforce (second only to the United States).

I would have put the Soviet Union at number 2 due to their nuclear capability (the Soviet Union had the 2nd largest nuclear stockpile on the planet at 55000+, while the United States of America had 70000+, but, we also have the consider the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear detonation in history, which was actually detonated at half of it's potential power as they removed the U-238 Tamper which increased it's explosion power to 100 megatons because if they detonated the Tsar Bomba with 100 megaton potential power then it would have destroyed the plane which dropped it as it was trying to fly away from the explosion) and their ability to overtake the American's at the beginning of the space race with the launch of Sputnik into orbit around the Earth. This proves that they were the only empire/union that was able to be the rival the United States of America, hell, the United States of America was terrified with the "Red Scare", and the American people thought that their country was ...more

They technically saved the world from the Nazis.

The Red Army had good leadership and was well equipped.

Not to mention their fierce determination, of course.

Easily could compete with US
remember, the Soviets weren't prepared for war against the Nazis, but somehow came on top anyway
also they could destroy anyone with their nuclear weapons and the Tsar Bomba, which is the most deadly weapon of all time.
The Soviets don't deserve a #5
they deserve a top 2!

6 Empire of Japan 1905-1941

The Japanese navy was, at the beginning of WW2, arguably the largest navy in the world. Japan was able to take on a much larger nation, China, and simultaneously deal with the US. They were able to put up a fight with America for 4 years! Perhaps if the Allies chose an invasion of Japan instead of atomic bombings, Japan may have won the war. It would have been a sort of "Stalingrad of the East." Okinawa, a tiny island in Japan, saw fighting in WW2 and 49,000 US casualties. The Allies planned to launch a D-Day invasion on the island of Kyushu, 16 times larger than Okinawa. If the invasion went the way that Okinawa went, the US would have suffered 789,520 casualties. If that's not a powerful military, then I'm not sure what is.

Conquered more land than many modern armies. China, the largest country in population, and Russia, the largest country in area, both we’re handily beaten. There was a point in WW2, that Japan had the advantage over China, Russia and the USA.

Need to learn how to surrender because they never surrender. Rather kamize or die for their country to surrender to the enemy.

It took a lot of armies to beat them, and they were all alone. They didn't need any help.

7 Dai Viet Army 1228-1300

Impressive army that sent the Mongols running back to Mongolia.

The only country to defeat the Mongol empire.

Deserves to be at least be in top three

Great Viet Army is its meaning

8 Roman Empire 27BC-476AD

The Roman Empire was strong, definitely one of the greatest armies but lacked strength in size (area). The Romans had probably one of the strongest European empires but didn’t expand as much as they could of despite conquering most of Europe and a little bit of Africa. This empire had a pretty long lifespan and would place around fifth on the list.

The Romans had one of the most disciplined and powerful armies in the world and even in ancient antiquity at their peak. With models and precedent to look upon and study, such as Caesar and Scipio Africanus, and almost inexhaustible resources compared to its rivals of the time, no other army could stand up to them, allowing the Romans to conqueror much of Europe and world known to them. Probably, the biggest reason why they weren't able to do more with their military might is due to the politics involved with various, ambitious people always vying for the position of emperor. And if put in modern context, if the Roman army did have the same technological capabilities as us right now, along with their almost immovable discipline and superb generals, they would probably be on par with the United States military.

The Roman Army should be rated at the top, as the most powerful force in World History, as its forces ruled the civilized world for over 700 years. The influence on European culture and Architecture/Engineering, is attributed to the Latin people of Rome. The majority of Eurpoean languages (Spanish, French, Portugese, Romanian) are derived from the Latin language of Italy.

The Romans might not seem like much now cause we have guns that can kill a person from 400 yards away but back then imagine seeing on the beaches of your island this massive army all equipped with sword/spears, shields, armor and helmets. If you can't then imagine an army the size of the Romans but they all have the same technology we have.

9 Viet Cong 1954-1976

America never, LOST vietnam, we never declared war and were more of a giant police force rather than army, to achieve victory, one must surrender or be conquered.

I hate to admit it, but these soldiers were very brave to take on the US. Not only that but to take on the US and win! They were both cowardly and cunning.

If it wasn't for Vietnam defeating America, most nations would still be fighting with WW2 tactics. Vietnam pretty much changed the way Generals see the battlefield.

The nation was so poor they harly could afford to buy guns, so they defeated their enemies by mostly using booby traps. How many armies can say they've done that?

10 Spanish Empire 1492-1975

The Spanish Empire was the first empire of global extent. It controlled modern day, South America, Central America, Mexico, Southwest America and Northern Africa. In its peak, it was wealthier and stronger than England, France and Portugal. Its power is displayed by its language having 460 million speakers, the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin. When Philip II was in power, The Spanish Empire most definitely ruled the world. After its defeat on Jul 29, 1588 along with a series of civil wars marked the decline of the Empire.

"Los Tercios" was the first modern Army and the best and never defeated (in any big battle) army during more than 100 years.

Just over 500 Spanish soldiers brought down an empire of over a million people.

The first empire where the sun never sunset!

The Contenders
11 Ottoman Empire 1299-1808

I think there is a mistake on the list. Because there are many things that have changed by Turk's, in Ottomans period of reign. For instance, it is accepted that when the Turk's conquered the Constantinopole (Istanbul) the middle age has ended, The Byzantine Empire ended and a new period of time has begun. The Ottomans ruled 24 million square kilometers. And they had the strongest army in its time.

Rapid conquest. Mamluks defeated in under 10 years. Beat all the crusaders. Conquered Constantinople. Nearly conquered all of Central Europe 4 times. Nearly United Islam. Reshaped history. Forced Castile to go to the new world due to its immense trade power. Largest armies, largest navy and largest population. One of the most tolerant empires in history.

They reigned over the world they weren't that big in terms or land size but had control over the main seas and trade routes of the time ruled over 7 climates successfully for 7 centuries

Even at the weakest times of Turkey and strongest times of United Kingdom in 1. World War, English army lost at Kut-el Amare and Gallipoli. (Only 2 battlefield Eng army lost in 1. World War.)

12 Russian Empire 1721-1905

After all it won world war 2 n is the only nation we've got which can stand up to western propaganda

Russians defeated Mongolia, France and Germany.

Russia defeated most armies on this list

13 Caliphates 632-1258

When your generals have 100 battles and 100 wins, you know that you are the greatest military force on earth. The caliphates were always outnumbered but never defeated. Nearly took over Europe 2 times. Its empire stretched from Spain to a Chinese dynasty. It lead to creation of Islam, led to Islamic golden age. Led to great inventions and discoveries. Largest empire of its time.

Came from nothing And rose by defeating two of the worlds greatest superpowers of the time The Persian and the Byzantine Empires

They were the best, no one can compete with them in this list. They were the most courageous people in the world. People like them will never come again in this world till the end of the world because they were righteous just and the most courageous.

They brought defeat to the roman and the Persian who were the two strongest in the world at the time. They only had 1/12 the size of other army's but their determination brought them greatness

14 Persian Empire 550BC-651AD

Cyrus the Great conquered all of the land that would be called Persia in a very small amount of time. (He gave freedom to all the slaves in Persia as well).

This empire got the closest to world conquest any empire has ever gotten m. 44% of the world population under Persian rule.

This shows how little peepz know about history.
Only 3 war mongering savages have ever conquered Persia.

Worlds biggest empire with 49% of worlds population

15 Kingdom of Macedonia 808-168 BC

Alexander The Great had superior tactics that gave him great advantages even when outflanked!

The world has never seen a greater ruler/warrior than Alexandra The Great

Entire countries surrendered then joined his army.

Under Alexander it defeated the thracians, the paeonians, various greek coalitions, the persain empire, the uxians, the scythians, the Indians, the bactrian, the phoenicians and pretty much everyone they came against.

16 German First world war Army 1914-1918

Ww2 German Military is actually quite overrated, first is the fact that most of Nazi Germany’s transportation relied on horse drawn vehicles. Second was the lack of equipment, many of the Nazis divisions were armed below the standards of the Imperial German army in 1918, when Germany was lacking many resources. Germany was forced to fight on a two front war against the other great powers of Europe, and almost won, only lost due to incompetent strategy, which is did have in the Franco-Prussian war. It defeated the Russian Empire and would have overrun the French Republic, and had a navy that could even rival the might of the British navy. It also had the best economy in 1914, which helped its army a lot, they also had a relatively good Air Force, and at one point had complete aerial superiority over the British and and French Empire. They could have, in fact, won the war if the US didn’t get involved, without American imports that allies would have starved and without the American ...more

In a war in which they were up against the British Empire, The French Republic, Russian Empire, and the United States of America, they still managed to last 4 years and all they had to help was the dying Austria-Hungarian Empire and Ottoman Empires both of which would be gone even if there wasn't a war. German Military Doctrine was really impressive, if the Kaiser had been smarter diplomatically the German Reich would likely still be around to this day.

13,500,000 men mobilized in two days in 1914 is not just impressive but almost impossible yet the kaiserreich military still managed it without a hitch. Armed properly and to the teeth with superior weaponry and superior supply lines. especially considering the military forces of the time per say the combatants at the beginning of the war, belgium was no match for the germans superior heavy guns and ludendorff's cunning plan, the french military wearing bright blue and relying on cavalry and melee charges and very 18th century technology, and finally the disastrous, utterly unprepared, disorganized, and incapable russian military.

This may be the greatest army ever. They were outnumbered well over two to one. German leadership of the Ottoman armies kept them going far longer than seemed possible. The Austrian army did not collapse until late 1918. This was due to the help of the Germans down to the junior officers and sergeants. Only their political stupidity caused them to loose by bringing the US into the war.

17 Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 1386-1795

Took fighting on 3 fronts to destroy it because it allowed more freedom to its citizens than Prussia, Russia and Austria Hungary - first constitution in Europe.

The Winged Hussars were at that point, the most powerful cavalry known to man.

In my opinion this was stronger than a lot of other countries on this list

Wiped out countless numbers of enemies with forces half the size

18 First French Empire 1804-1814

The Grande Armee rampaged across Europe unchallenged for an entire decade, until cold and typhus (rather than enemy armies) destroyed it in Russia. It was one of the most formidable fighting force ever assembled, with extremely experienced soldiers (some of whom had been fighting constantly for 20 years) and fearless generals who took part in the killing with their sword during cavalry charges. Between 1805 and 1815, Napoleon's Grande Armee a level of dominance over Europe that had not been witnessed since Ancient Rome.

Won more major battles than any other military in history, and were the basis for all modern military strategy after it.

The victory record of Napoleon is over the top, his tactics have been copied by everyone after him.

No, defeated by the Russian winter. He took Moscow.

19 Swedish Empire 1611-1721

The caroleans were strongly religious, in preparation of every battle prayed the carolean army together with their king. The king also lead the army personally into battle with no thought for his own personal safety, this gave the army the highest moral possible.

You shall not get hit by any bullet ouch cur by any sword if it not to be the will of god! -Gustavus adolphus.

The Carolean Army defeated armies twice their size or more on a regular basis... Carolus Rex (Charles XII) and Gustavus Adolphus were two of the more brilliant military tacticians of their time, if not all time.

The Swedish beat Russia and Finland several times and even colonized New York and New Jersey

A nation with a very small population DOMINATED almost the whole of balticum against enemies 10x their size.

20 Sikh Empire 1799-1849

Sikhs are so strong but so forgiving. They fought over millions and millions even though there was so very few of them. They are super strong and will sacrifice so much. They will always help you and they will never give up, ever. They had to fight so much and were so strong withought even though they did not have enough food water or a big army there army only consisted of 100 and they still won they should be crowned BEST ARMY IN THE WORLD.

Undefeated Army in Battle ground from 1799 until Maharaja Ranjit Singh died 1839 (King of Sikh empire), only cause of lost the empire in 1849 was betrayed corrupt politicians after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Still, Sikh Army fought without proper command for 10 years until the Sikh Empire merged into British Indian empire. Sikh Army fought 1st and 2nd world war under British. Now it is serving Indian forces as sikh regiment.

Best empire of the world. No discrimination on religion. A period of prosperity.

They always fought against injustice but never started war by themselves.

21 Prussian Army 1701-1918

Stood against Austria, France, Russia and Sweden During the Seven Years' War under the leadership of Frederick the Great and with its Disciplined Army. Voltaire once remarked "While most states have an army, the Prussian army has a state". Played a pivotal role during the Napoleonic wars from 1813-1815. Defeated the Austrians in 1866 and unified Germany in 1871 after decisively defeating the French during the Franco-Prussian war. Was the main force of the German Army during WW1. Prussian General Baron Von Steuben trained and drilled the US army during and after the American Revolutionary War, helping create America's first army. Even after Prussia's de jure dissolution in 1933, Hitler tried to model the Wehrmacht to the Prussian Army.

The Prussian military doctrine was the best of the Napoleonic era, and its mighty spirit to fight comes directly from the times of the order of the Teutonic Knights. Late 19th century, in the Shadows of the recently created German Empire, its technological breakthrough surpasses even mighty British Empire, and in early 20th century, in the battlefields of the Great war Germany... Prussia! show the world again, its mighty and superior power.

Personally I think Prussia should be way higher on the list as during their time they where almost undefeated winning against a lot of historically powerful countries like the French,polish, and Austrian empires.

Started out as a unpromising electorate with swamps, rivers and barren, sandy soil. Formed a powerful, disciplined force of soldiers that though outnumbered, defeated the once considered invincible Swedish army during the Scanian war. Elevated to the Kingdom in Prussia in 1701 by Frederick I and played a role in the war of the Spanish succession. Under Frederick William I 'the soldier king', the Prussian army again defeated the Swedes in the great northern war. Prussia was the 12th largest country in terms of population but with an army of 80,000 had the 4th largest army in all of Europe. Under Frederick II 'the great', Prussia took rich and prosperous Silesia from the Habsburgs during the war of the Austrian Succession. Then in 1756, was at war with its neighbours from all sides: France to the West, Austria and Saxony to the South, Russia to the East, and Sweden to the North with only Great Britain and a few German States to assist it in this Seven Years' War. Was outnumbered 2 to 1 ...more

22 Indian National Army 1942

This is the first military forces of India founded by our great national hero of India, Subhash Chandra Bose. This became very powerful when the Britishers were colonizing India. During world war 2, the Britishers became little weak because the INA (Indian National Army) had attacked and won battle of Impahal, where the the Britishers were winning war. They won all the battles against those Britishers and today, it rose up as the 4th powerful army in the whole world. It can defeat many countries (except US army, Russian army and Chinese army as they are more powerful). It is more powerful than Ottoman Empire and the Mongols.

There is a reason the sea beside Mediterranean is named bay of bengal. Even in times of rome

They fought for many countries and won. They alsoare more powerful than any other empire in my opinion.

23 Israeli Army 1948-1982

Defeated the armies of all arab countries with a country just formed and an army that was outnumbered. Then did so again during a war that was so swift it lasted for only 6 days, crushing forces that were much superio of many arab states.

24 Maurya Empire 322-187 BC

The empire which had army that controlled all of the indian subcontinent present day india, pakistan,bangladesh and some part of afghanistan.

Maurya is the best impaire in world. Biggest army in the world. If they wanted then whole world would be won by them.

25 Grande Armée 1804-1815

Because it was the most courage and dominant in europe continent

The greatest ever

8Load More
PSearch List