The Army is one of a country’s first lines of defence from invaders and it has been that way for centuries. But some of these forces are stronger than others. Across the world, different countries are trying to ensure that their country is the best with high-tech weaponry and soldier training. This is the second part of this series and you can read part one here.
Top Armies #11- Israel- Israel Defense Forces
The Army for the Defense of Israel is known as Tzahal which is a Hebrew acronym. The defence forces were founded in 1948 when the defence minister, David Ben-Gurion, set up a conscript army from the paramilitary group Haganah. One of the main differences of this army from many other is that it is mandatory for women to complete their conscription. The most famous woman to complete her conscription is Gal Gadot. The army is structured to help with Israel’s unique security situation in the Middle East. Many of the weapons used by the forces have been designed and manufactured in Israel. These include the Iron Dome missile defence system, the Merkava battle tank and the Uzi assault weapon. Israel has close military ties with the United States which include the development of weapons including the Arrow Missile defence system and the McDonnell Douglas F-15I attack jet. The current budget for the Defense Forces is around $16.5 billion dollars.
Top Armies #12- Indonesia- The Indonesian Army
Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Darat is the Indonesian Army which was formed in 1945. The army was built from much younger troops who were untrained but would follow command. The army was heavily involved the Indonesian killings of 1965 to 1966. This was an anti-communist purge and followed a failed coup. It was estimated that around 500,000 people were killed during this time. The CIA described the massacres as one of the killings and was in the same league as the Nazi mass murder of Jews and the Soviet purges of the 1930’s. The size of the army has expanded from the 1940’s. It is estimated that there is around 233,000 active personnel in the Indonesian Army. Indonesian manufacturers and designs many of its own weapons. These include the Pindad SPR sniper rifle and Pindad SM3 machine gun.
Top Armies #13- Australia- Australian Army
The Australian Defense Force has a land based branch known as the Australian Army. The army has been involved in some major and minor conflicts. But the only time that the country has come under direct attack was during World War Two. The current size of the army is around 47,000 active service personnel. Soldiers are equipped with various small arms including the F88 Steyr AUG service rifle. However special forces are equipped with the Heckler and Koch USP semi-automatic pistol. The army currently has a range of unmanned vehicles to use. These include the AAI Corporation Aerosonde which is an unmanned aerial vehicle and the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle which is used for battlefield surveillance. As well as unmanned vehicles there is a range of attack helicopters which have been used in service in Iraq. The army operational headquarters, Forces Command, are found in Victoria Barracks in Sydney.
Top Armies #14- Canada- The Canadian Army
The Canadian Army was formerly known as the Land Force Command. Before 1940 the Canadian forces were known as the Canadian Militia. The Militia was originally part of the British Army and over the years, several different branches of the army were developed including the famous Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. Before the outbreak of the First World War, many people from Ireland decided to immigrate to Canada. Once War was declared many of the Irish ex-pats joined the forces, mainly the Canadian Expeditionary Forces which was formed for service overseas. There are around 22,000 active force members of the army and 13,000 on reserve. Canada has an advanced science and technology sector which ensures that the Armed Forces can receive their equipment from home. There is currently over 10,000 utility vehicles and the army is planning on upgrading their tanks by 2023.
Top Armies #15- Taiwan- Republic of China Army
Taiwan is a small island off the coast of China. This army is often confused with the People’s Liberation Army of China, but they are rivals. The Republic of China Army is the final line of defence for the islands of Taiwan, Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu against the People’s Liberation Army. The main focus is on counterattack and defence from sea and land. The army was formed in 1924 from the National Revolutionary Army. Up until the 1970’s the army had been planning on taking control of China but since there have been major cutbacks there has been a shift in focus. From 1990 the army has been upgrading most of the equipment which they use. In 2010 it was announced that America had lifted the ban on selling arms to Taiwan and had already made several sales to the armed forces. Taiwan have designed and manufactured many of their own weapons and vehicles. These include tanks, armoured vehicles and attack helicopters.
Top Armies #16- Italy- Italian Army
The land defence force of the Italian Armed Forces is known as the Italian Army. The army was formed in the 1850’s when the country was unified. The army has been involved in several different engagements across the world but is mainly involved in peacekeeping missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Italian Army was heavily engaged in both World Wars as many of the conflict zones were found in northern Italy. During the Second World War, the army pioneered the use of paratroopers, something which was unheard of at the time. The current size of the army is around 102,000 active service personnel. After the Cold War, the army began to reform and has disbanded many of its regiments. The army has received arms from around the world but has designed and manufactures much of its own equipment. The Beretta 92 handgun is Italian made and has been in service since 1978.
Top Armies #17- Pakistan- The Pakistan Army
The Pakistan Armed Forces were formed in 1947 after the country declared independence. Unlike many armies in the area, the Pakistan Army is a volunteer professional fighting force. In recent years the manpower of the army has increased to over 550,000 active force member and over 500,000 members on reserve. General Raheel Sharif is the current commander of the Pakistan Army. Under chapter two of the constitution, there is an outline for the purpose of the army. The mission is to protect Pakistan from external aggression and defend Pakistan. After the 9/11 attacks in New York, Pakistan united with the United States to fight against the Taliban and deployed over 72,000 troops to defend the borders. The army has its own division of Special Forces which is similar to the American Green Berets and the British SAS.
Top Armies #18- Egypt- The Egyptian Army
The Egyptian Army is the largest land-based force in the Middle East and Africa. There is an estimated one million personnel available for duty, this includes 480,000 active personnel and 1,000,000 reserves. The modern army does not date back to ancient times but was founded by Muhammad Ali of Egypt between 1805 and 1849. Although the army has been engaged with British forces the main aim of the forces has been for protection. Since the 1970’s Egypt has focused on design and manufacturing its own weapons. Many of the weapons currently used by the forces have been imported from other countries including small arms from the United States and tanks from Russia. Following the downfall of the Soviet Union, Egypt purchased a lot of the equipment that was no longer used by those forces.
Top Armies #19- Poland- Wojska Ladowe
The Polish Armed Forces have three different branches, the Wojska Ladowe is the land forces branch of the military. The Polish forces have been in operation since 972. Since then the army has changed and reorganised several times to form the current armed forces. From 2002 until 2014 the Polish land forces were part of the Coalition Forces which were deployed to Afghanistan. Until 2009 there was still a conscription requirement for the forces. The Wojska Ladowe has around 47,000 active personnel. Including the other branches of the military, the forces exceed 120,000. In 2011 the forces began a programme to update all of the military equipment that is used. This has included battle tanks, armoured attack vehicles and attack helicopters. The forces are also being reorganised to NATO standards as part of the modernisation.
Top Armies #20- Thailand- The Royal Thai Army
The Royal Thai Army is the biggest and oldest part of the Thailand armed forces. Its main mission is to protect the sovereignty of the country. The army was formed in 1874 when the country opened itself to international trade. It is estimated that there are around 190,000 troops available at any time. There are nine infantry divisions and this includes 16 tanks battalions. The infantry as a range of weapons to use, these include weapons manufactured in Thailand by the Ministry of Defense and others brought from other countries. One of the designed by the Ministry of Defense is the Type 11 assault rifle and the BTS-203 single shot grenade launcher. Most of the tanks that the Thai army use have been acquired from the United States. It is believed that there are over 700 tanks and over 2,500 armoured vehicles for the Army to use in times of conflict.