The world's most powerful militaries in 2023, ranked

  • Global Firepower ranked 145 countries based on their military power — here are the top 25.
  • It said the US, China, and Russia rank highest, with some surprises further down.
  • Experts told Insider that ranking militaries is subjective and imperfect, and suggested things to bear in mind.

Global Firepower’s 2023 Military Strength Ranking ranks 145 nations’ militaries, weighing a host of different factors like the volume of sophistication of its equipment, its finances, geography, and resources.

The ranking considers factors including the amount of military equipment and troops each country has, as well as their financial standing, geography, and available resources, information which may be imperfect. Notably, the ranking only evaluates militaries from a conventional standpoint, overlooking a country’s capacity for nuclear strike.

It purportedly uses more than 60 factors to generate a PowerIndex score, with a score closer to zero indicating a more powerful military. (Global Firepower doesn’t explain exactly how the factors are weighed against each other or the workings of their “in-house formula.”)

Below is a rundown of the 25 top militaries, per this ranking, with some information on each nation.

It’s worth noting that comparing militaries is subjective, and putting together a true and accurate ranking of global military power is almost impossible given the myriad of factors required for a proper analysis. Experts don’t hold the Global Firepower list in much esteem, and two told Insider its value is limited. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting thought experiment.

Alex Kokcharov, a risk analyst with S&P Global Market Intelligence, told Insider that it reflects “perceptions rather than the actual picture.” A lot of information is not available from open sources, he noted.

Dr Matthew Ford, an ex-West Point fellow and Associate Professor at the Swedish Defence University, made a similar point. The data, he said, misses factors like a military’s training and education, its intelligence chops, or the effectiveness of its command structure.

“Many of these things are difficult parameters to quantify because they are probably known to military planners in these specific countries but not necessarily to outside observers,” he said.

With those limitations in mind, here is how the top countries stack up according to this attempt at ranking global military might, which has been put out annually for nearly two decades:

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