United States Army - Top 1st Strongest Militaries
United States Army - Top 1st Strongest Militaries

The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States of America.

The U.S armed forces consists of six service branches: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard.

The president of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and forms military policy with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), both federal executive departments, acting as the principal organs by which military policy is carried out. All six armed services are among the eight uniformed services of the United States.

Take a look at the history, strength and powers, and how the United States has the world’s 1st strongest militaries.

Facts About 'American Military Dominance'

President Barack Obama promised to “maintain America’s military dominance and keep you the finest fighting force the world has even seen.”

President George W. Bush announced: “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.”

President Bill Clinton said: “Today our Armed Forces are clearly and without dispute the best trained, the best equipped, the best prepared, and the best motivated military on the face of the Earth.”

Evidence of American Military Dominance

The United States has the world's largest military budget

The first and most often referenced reason Americans are confident in their military is defense spending. The United States spent $596 billion on defense annually in 2016, $19 billion more than the $567 billion spent by the seven next most prolific countries. Few people, when asked directly, would argue that better funding ensures military victory.

In the fiscal year 2019, $693 billion in funding were enacted for the DoD and for "Overseas Contingency Operations" in the War on Terrorism. Outside of direct DoD spending, the United States spends another $218 to $262 billion each year on other defense-related programs, such as Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, nuclear weapons maintenance and DoD.

In FY2016 $146.9 billion was allocated for the Department of the Army, $168.8 billion for the Department of the Navy, $161.8 billion for the Department of the Air Force, and $102.8 billion for DoD-wide spending. By function, $138.6 billion was requested for personnel, $244.4 billion for operations and maintenance, $118.9 billion for procurement, $69.0 billion for research and development, $1.3 billion for revolving and management funds, $6.9 billion for military construction, and $1.3 billion for family housing.

Unfortunately, defense spending does not directly correlate with military effectiveness. Operational and strategic proficiency are even more important than tactical proficiency, and even less directly correlated to defense spending. It is also difficult to compare American military spending to other states, as the United States spends a disproportionate amount on personnel costs.

Military’s tough, realistic training

Another, and perhaps better-founded, reason for American confidence is the military’s tough, realistic training.

Most of the United States’ potential adversaries do not have training centers and exercises that are as rigorous as the combat training centers, Red Flag, or several of the United States’ large-scale naval exercises. Units depart combat training center rotations more confident and prepared for deployments than when they arrived. Despite their benefits, even demanding exercises are not a sure recipe for success. To take advantage of the benefits of training, militaries have to predict what combat will look like in the future — a notoriously difficult and unreliable task. Training value can only be truly measured by combat effectiveness, and combat effectiveness in future battles can’t be measured ahead of time.

Large, well-equipped forces

Large, well-equipped forces with the ability to project force globally provide a type of power that few states can rival. History, however, provides no evidence that American military power translates into genuine dominance of adversaries, leaving the comparison of conventional military power uncertain. It would be an exaggeration to say that Americans tend to enter wars as part of massive coalitions fighting against weak or exhausted enemies, then remember themselves as world champions of warfare.

Fact-Check 'American Military Dominance'

Confidence in the U.S. military’s dominance has persisted for decades across a variety of fields. Most Americans learn a history of U.S. military dominance.

Gallup polling shows that over the past three decades a majority of Americans believed that the United States is the world’s preeminent military. Every one of the abovementioned experts and leaders spoke in good faith, but from a shared assumption about the character of global military power. This belief, founded in an underexamined narrative, is worthy of further scrutiny.

Most Americans learn a history of U.S. military dominance.

Narratives of triumph in two world wars, a one-sided fight in the first Gulf War, and rapid invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan all support the belief that through most of the 20th century and no small amount of what we have seen thus far from the 21st, the United States has been the inevitable victor when its enemies are brave enough, or perhaps foolish enough, to meet it on the field of conventional warfare.

History provides little obvious support for a narrative of American military dominance.

The United States played a valuable role in World War I and World War II, but was not the primary combatant in either conflict. Americans fought hard, sacrificed, and made a key difference in both wars, but did so as part of large alliances that included other powerful states, not as a military titan crushing its enemies.

During the World War I, the U.S. military tipped the balance of power against Germany, but did not dominate, or have the military or industrial power to dominate the Western Front. Instead, the French, British, and Russian militaries each bore a heavier burden. World War II arguably made a much greater impression on the American narrative, whether measured through recent remembrance on the anniversary of D-Day or the number of Call of Duty games the war is featured in. However, the narrative of American efforts during the “good war” often leaves out the efforts of other nations.

During World War II, the United States played a major role in North Africa, Italy, France, and the Pacific, but the Soviet Union destroyed the largest portion of the Nazi military and defeated the Army of Manchuria, Japan’s strongest ground force.

The 1950s through the 1970s are less commonly portrayed as a period of military dominance, but still affect how Americans see their military. The Korean War is rarely mentioned. When it is, stories of Chinese human-wave tactics control the narrative rather than depictions of a stalemate against an adversary with occasional small numerical advantages at the theater level. The United States’ struggle to accomplish its objectives in Vietnam is typically described as a dark point in an otherwise bright history. Instead of a reminder of the limits of American military power, Vietnam is often part of a parallel narrative about the hazards and frustrations of fighting unconventional forces. Instead of challenging American conventional dominance, that narrative is used as a demonstration that the American military has so much conventional power that its enemies may choose to avoid it on the field and fight as insurgents.

Defense planners during the 1970s believed that even the combination of America’s powerful nuclear arsenal and conventional military power was unprepared to face increasingly capable Soviet forces. The planners believed Soviet armor could quickly penetrate NATO lines and destroy its tactical nuclear weapons, “and prevent NATO from mounting a nuclear defense entirely.” The resulting technological, doctrinal, and operational reforms, labeled the second offset, created the military that fought in the first Gulf War.

The first Gulf War mostly reversed whatever doubts the Korean and Vietnam Wars created. The United States and its allies outperformed expectations in Kuwait and Iraq. Instead of taking the projected 10-20,000 casualties, the United States and its allies steamrolled the Iraqi military. At the time, the victory seemed to prove both the value of post-Vietnam reforms and emerging information technology capabilities. President George H.W. Bush captured the spirit of the hour when he announced the United States had finally beaten Vietnam.

Unfortunately, the first Gulf War was not a strong indicator of American military power compared to other major powers. The conflict was heavily balanced towards the United States and its allies. The Iraqi military fought mostly in open terrain where the American military could use its technology far more effectively than in cities or forests. The United States led a massive coalition against a much smaller Iraqi military, which was in relatively poor shape from a long war with Iran that had exhausted their military rather than forging a battle-hardened force. Saddam’s purges of his officer corps also degraded his army’s effectiveness. On top of these issues, the Iraqi military was not committed to defending their occupation of Kuwait, an action some Iraqi soldiers found immoral. With all of those factors weighed, it would have been surprising if the United States and its allies had not quickly driven the Iraqis from Kuwait.

The same factors were in play during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003. While both campaigns were impressive victories in many ways, they were fought against small, poor states, and are better indicators of the fate of small, poor states that fight against large, wealthy states than indicators of American military prowess.

The History and Roles of the US Military

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

The history of the U.S. Armed Forces dates to 14 June 1775, with the creation of the Continental Army, even before the Declaration of Independence marked the establishment of the United States. The Continental Navy, established on 13 October 1775, and Continental Marines, established on 10 November 1775, were created in close succession by the Second Continental Congress in order to defend the new nation against the British Empire in the American Revolutionary War.

These forces demobilized in 1784 after the Treaty of Paris ended the War for Independence. The Congress of the Confederation created the current United States Army on 3 June 1784. The United States Congress created the current United States Navy on 27 March 1794 and the current United States Marine Corps on 11 July 1798. All three services trace their origins to their respective Continental predecessors. The 1787 adoption of the Constitution gave the Congress the power to "raise and support armies", to "provide and maintain a navy" and to "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces", as well as the power to declare war. The president is the U.S. Armed Forces' commander-in-chief.

The United States Coast Guard traces its origin to the founding of the Revenue Cutter Service on 4 August 1790 which merged with the United States Life-Saving Service on 28 January 1915 to establish the Coast Guard. The United States Air Force was established as an independent service on 18 September 1947; it traces its origin to the formation of the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps, which was formed 1 August 1907 and was part of the Army Air Forces before becoming an independent service as per the National Security Act of 1947. The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps was formerly considered to be a branch of the United States Armed Forces from 29 July 1945 until its status as such was revoked on 3 July 1952.

The United States Space Force was established as an independent service on 20 December 2019. It is the sixth branch of the U.S. military and the first new branch since the establishment of the independent U.S. Air Force in 1947. It traces its origin to the formation of the Air Force Space Command, which was formed 1 September 1982 and was a major command of the United States Air Force.

The Army continues to provide combatant commanders with a wide range of forces and capabilities to prevail in the war on terror, sustain our global commitments and build effective multinational coalitions. In addition to supporting the Global War on Terrorism, the Army also assists with:

Multinational exercises that reflect our longstanding leadership of, and commitment to, an expanding North Atlantic Treaty Organization and many other alliances

-The defense of South Korea, Japan and many other friends, allies and partners

-Ongoing peacekeeping operation

-The security of our borders

-Operations and equipment to counter the flow of illegal drugs

Who Is in Charge of the 6 Military Branches?

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

The president of the United States is the commander in chief, who is responsible for all final decisions. The secretary of the Department of Defense (DoD) has control over the military and each branch -- except the Coast Guard, which is under the Department of Homeland Security. With more than 2 million civilian and military employees, the DoD is the world's largest "company."

What Are the Branches of the Military?

Each branch of the military has a unique mission within the overall mission of U.S. security and peace. In addition to the six branches of the military, the Army and Air National Guards also serve their own special functions. Here's a rundown:

Air Force and Air Force Reserve

The nation's source of air and space power. The primary mission of the USAF is to fly planes, helicopters and satellites.

The U.S. Air Force is a military service branch organized within the Department of the Air Force, one of the three military departments of the Department of Defense. The Air Force through the Department of the Air Force is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Air Force, who reports to the Secretary of Defense and is appointed by the President with Senate confirmation. The highest-ranking military officer in the Air Force is the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who exercises supervision over Air Force units and serves as one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As directed by the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Air Force, certain Air Force components are assigned to unified combatant commands. Combatant commanders are delegated operational authority of the forces assigned to them, while the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force retain administrative authority over their members.

Air National Guard

The Air National Guard, as we know it today, is a separate reserve component of the United States Air Force.

The Air National Guard (ANG), also known as the Air Guard, is a federal military reserve force of the United States Air Force, as well as the air militia of each U.S. state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It, along with each state's, district's, commonwealth's or territory's Army National Guard component, makes up the National Guard of each state and the districts, commonwealths and territories as applicable.

When Air National Guard units are used under the jurisdiction of the state governor they are fulfilling their militia role. However, if federalized by order of the President of the United States, Air National Guard units become an active part of the United States Air Force. They are jointly administered by the states and the National Guard Bureau, a joint bureau of the Army and Air Force that oversees the United States National Guard.

Army and Army Reserve

The dominant land power. The Army generally moves into an area, secures it and instills order and values before it leaves. It also guards U.S. installations and properties throughout the world.

Army National Guard

The Army National Guard is an elite group of warriors who dedicate a portion of their time to serving their nation. Each state has its own Guard, as required by the Constitution; in fact, it is the only branch of the military whose existence actually is required by the Constitution.

The Army National Guard (ARNG), in conjunction with the Air National Guard, is an organized militia force and a federal military reserve force of the United States Army. They are simultaneously part of two different organizations: the Army National Guard of each state, most territories, and the District of Columbia (also referred to as the Militia of the United States), and the Army National Guard of the United States (as part of the federalized National Guard). The Army National Guard is divided into subordinate units stationed in each U.S. state and territory, as well as the District of Columbia, operating under their respective governors and governor-equivalents.

Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve

The Coast Guard's mission is primarily with domestic waterways. The Coast Guard does rescues, law enforcement, drug prevention and clears waterways.

Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve

The Marine Corps is known as the country's rapid-reaction force. They are trained to fight by sea and land, and usually are the first "boots on the ground." Marines are known as the world's fiercest warriors.

Navy and Navy Reserve

The Navy accomplishes its missions primarily by sea but also by air and land. It secures and protects the oceans around the world to create peace and stability, making the seas safe for travel and trade.

The United States Navy (USN) is the maritime service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most powerful navy in the world, with the estimated tonnage of its active battle fleet alone exceeding the next 13 navies combined, including 11 U.S. allies or partner nations as of 2015. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage (4,635,628 tonne as of 2019) and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, two new carriers under construction, and five other carriers planned. With 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019.

Space Force

The United States Space Force (USSF) is the space service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, one of the eight U.S. uniformed services, and the world's only independent space force. Along with its sister-branch, the U.S. Air Force, the Space Force is part of the Department of the Air Force, one of the three civilian-led military departments within the Department of Defense. The Space Force, through the Department of the Air Force, is overseen by the Secretary of the Air Force, a civilian political appointee who reports to the Secretary of Defense, and is appointed by the President with Senate confirmation. The military head of the Space Force is the Chief of Space Operations who is the most senior Space Force officer unless a Space Force officer is serving as either Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Chief of Space Operations exercises supervision over the Space Force's units and serves as one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The sixth branch of the military, the Space Force is also still in development and will be for some time as many final decisions are made, including uniforms, basing and even recruitment.

United States Military Strengths

Photo: Kyiv Post
Photo: Kyiv Post

For 2022, United States is ranked 1 of 140 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. It holds a PwrIndx score of 0.0453 (a score of 0.0000 is considered 'perfect').

From their inception during the American Revolutionary War, the U.S. Armed Forces have played a decisive role in the history of the United States. They helped forge a sense of national unity and identity through victories in the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War. They played a critical role in the American Civil War, keeping the Confederacy from seceding from the republic. The National Security Act of 1947, adopted following World War II, created the modern U.S. military framework. The Act established the National Military Establishment, headed by the secretary of defense; and created the United States Air Force and the National Security Council. It was amended in 1949, renaming the National Military Establishment the Department of Defense, and merged the cabinet-level Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, and Department of the Air Force, into the Department of Defense.

The U.S. Armed Forces are one of the largest military forces in terms of personnel. They draw their personnel from a large pool of paid volunteers. Although conscription has been used in the past, it has not been used since 1973. The Selective Service System retains the power to conscript males, and requires that all male citizens and residents residing in the U.S. between the ages of 18–25 register with the service.

The U.S. Armed Forces are considered the world's most powerful military. The military budget of the United States was US$693 billion in 2019, the highest in the world. In 2018, that accounted for 36 percent of the world's defense expenditures. The U.S. Armed Forces has significant capabilities in both defense and power projection due to its large budget, resulting in advanced and powerful technologies which enables a widespread deployment of the force around the world, including around 800 military bases outside the United States. The U.S. Air Force is the world's largest air force, the U.S. Navy is the world's largest navy by tonnage, and the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps combined are the world's second largest air arm. In terms of size, the U.S. Coast Guard is the world's 12th largest maritime force. The U.S. as of FY2019 has about 14,061 aircraft in its military inventory. The U.S. Space Force is the world's only active independent space force.

Why Is US Military The Strongest In The World?

Be it pure coincidence or the repeated promises to “Make America Great Again” during his presidential campaign, the share of American’s who believed the United States was the number one military in the world increased following the election of Donald J. Trump to Commander in Chief in 2016. While this opnion has fluctuated since then, the share of people who believe the U.S. military to be the number one military in the world consistently stays above 50 percent. In 2020, 58 percent of Americans believed that the U.S. was the number one military power in the world.

The United States has never struggled for military funding which takes up 15 percent of the U.S. budget. That equates to $686 billion spent on weapons, tanks, boats, jets, and any other piece of equipment every single year. It hasn’t stopped growing either. In 2020, $750 billion was allocated to the military, and its likely we’ll see another increase in 2021.

While the amount of military personnel is an important factor of an army’s strength, what really takes the U.S. to the next level is our air superiority as well as naval prowess. The U.S. military possesses almost 2,100 fighters, 967 attack choppers, over 900 air transports, and special-purpose aircraft. Some notable units are the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, A-10 Thunderbolt II, and Apache Attack Helicopter. Drones shouldn’t be ignored either as they rise in popularity for taking out High-Value Targets.

Oceanside, the Navy has accrued eleven aircraft carriers and ninety-one Navy destroyers. In a global conflict, aircraft carriers are a vital part of maintaining combat effectiveness.

The next factor is how rapidly the US develop and release new weapons technology like the upcoming smart bullets, David’s Sling, and potential exosuits like the TALOS project. It’s likely there are top-secret projects in the works that will remain classified even as they’re rolled out into active use. It’s hard to even cover the sheer quantity of military advances in the past 81 years.

Last is the elite training the special forces receive. While this is becoming less of a focus as combat starts gravitating towards drones and proxy wars, the training aspect can’t be written off. It can be grueling and break a person, but only the most skilled and strong can make it. They excel in combat tactics, teamwork, and minimizing collateral damage and the US have their special forces to thank for eliminating threats to national security like Osama Bin Laden

United State Army Weapons

Photo: NPR
Photo: NPR

Individual weapons

The United States Army employs various weapons to provide light firepower at short ranges. The most common weapon type used by the army is the M4 carbine, a compact variant of the M16 rifle, along with the 7.62×51mm variant of the FN SCAR for Army Rangers. The primary sidearm in the U.S. Army is the 9 mm M9 pistol; the M11 pistol is also used. Both handguns are to be replaced by the M17 through the Modular Handgun System program. Soldiers are also equipped with various hand grenades, such as the M67 fragmentation grenade and M18 smoke grenade.

Many units are supplemented with a variety of specialized weapons, including the M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon), to provide suppressive fire at the squad level. Indirect fire is provided by the M320 grenade launcher. The M1014 Joint Service Combat Shotgun or the Mossberg 590 Shotgun are used for door breaching and close-quarters combat. The M14EBR is used by designated marksmen. Snipers use the M107 Long Range Sniper Rifle, the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle and the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle.

Crew-served weapons

The army employs various crew-served weapons to provide heavy firepower at ranges exceeding that of individual weapons.

The M240 is the U.S. Army's standard Medium Machine Gun.[166] The M2 heavy machine gun is generally used as a vehicle-mounted machine gun. In the same way, the 40 mm MK 19 grenade machine gun is mainly used by motorized units.

The U.S. Army uses three types of mortar for indirect fire support when heavier artillery may not be appropriate or available. The smallest of these is the 60 mm M224, normally assigned at the infantry company level. At the next higher echelon, infantry battalions are typically supported by a section of 81 mm M252 mortars. The largest mortar in the army's inventory is the 120 mm M120/M121, usually employed by mechanized units.

Fire support for light infantry units is provided by towed howitzers, including the 105 mm M119A1 and the 155 mm M777.

The U.S. Army utilizes a variety of direct-fire rockets and missiles to provide infantry with an Anti-Armor Capability. The AT4 is an unguided projectile that can destroy armor and bunkers at ranges up to 500 meters. The FIM-92 Stinger is a shoulder-launched, heat seeking anti-aircraft missile. The FGM-148 Javelin and BGM-71 TOW are anti-tank guided missiles.


U.S. Army doctrine puts a premium on mechanized warfare. It fields the highest vehicle-to-soldier ratio in the world as of 2009. The army's most common vehicle is the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), commonly called the Humvee, which is capable of serving as a cargo/troop carrier, weapons platform and ambulance, among many other roles. While they operate a wide variety of combat support vehicles, one of the most common types centers on the family of HEMTT vehicles. The M1A2 Abrams is the army's main battle tank, while the M2A3 Bradley is the standard infantry fighting vehicle. Other vehicles include the Stryker, the M113 armored personnel carrier and multiple types of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

The U.S. Army's principal artillery weapons are the M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer and the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), both mounted on tracked platforms and assigned to heavy mechanized units.

While the United States Army Aviation Branch operates a few fixed-wing aircraft, it mainly operates several types of rotary-wing aircraft. These include the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the UH-60 Black Hawk utility tactical transport helicopter and the CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift transport helicopter. Restructuring plans call for reduction of 750 aircraft and from 7 to 4 types. The Army is evaluating two fixed-wing aircraft demonstrators; ARES, and Artemis are under evaluation to replace the Guardrail ISR (Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) aircraft. Under the Johnson-McConnell agreement of 1966, the Army agreed to limit its fixed-wing aviation role to administrative mission support (light unarmed aircraft which cannot operate from forward positions). For UAVs, the Army is deploying at least one company of drone MQ-1C Gray Eagles to each Active Army division.

Armed forces of the United States - Statistics

Photo: RFE
Photo: RFE

The United States military is one of the most trusted institutions in the United States, with 69 percent of the public having confidence in it in 2021.

This level of public support comes after heavy involvement of the U.S. military in a number of military campaigns in the Middle East. Part of the positive view the public has for the military is sourced from the sacrifices required of their countrymen and women in places like Iraq. At times, this has included the ultimate sacrifice.

How America Has No.1 Militaries In The World of All Time
Active and reserve U.S. military force personnel numbers in 2020, by service branch and reserve component. Photo: Statista
America is known the world over for being a strong military power, and Americans tend to have a lot of confidence in the military. The United States might not have the largest military in the world, but it outpaces all other countries in defense spending.

Serving one's country

That said, many servicemen and women do not endure grueling training and risking their lives purely out of patriotism for their country. A career in the military is sometimes the best option economically, raising concerns that those from more disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to end up in the firing line on a foreign continent.

Nevertheless, the military might of the United States is unquestionable. The U.S. Army has the largest number of active personnel, followed by the Navy and Air Force. Despite numbering over 1.4 million in 2021, the U.S. military is outnumbered heavily by China. Where the United States truly dominates is in regards to military spending. This amounted to 2,186 U.S. dollars per capita in 2021. There appears to be no decrease in spending on the horizon, with forecasted outlays set to reach 915 billion U.S. dollars in 2031.

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