Aerospace & Defense

This Country Has the World's Largest Military

The United States has a military that includes about 1.3 million people spread across the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. It is not by any means the world’s largest. That distinction belongs to China. Its military has slightly more than 2 million members. Some estimates put the figure higher, and in one case by several hundred thousand.

The U.S. Department of Defense produced a document titled “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.” It issues the report once a year. Among the observations of the report:

With a force that totals approximately two million personnel in the regular forces, the PLA has sought to modernize its capabilities and improve its proficiencies across all warfare domains so that as a joint force it can conduct the range of land, air, and maritime operations as well as space, counterspace, electronic warfare (EW), and cyber operations.

Global Firepower has a different count for the Chinese military and places the figure closer to 3.4 million. This includes active personnel of 2.2 million, about 500,000 reserves, and close to 700,000 it labels as members its “paramilitary”.

According to the 24/7 Wall St. analysis titled “Countries Spending the Most on War,” China does not rank highest among all nations in military spending. The United States is first at $649 billion. China is second. In detail:

> 2018 military spending: $250.0 billion
> Military spending change, 2009-2018: +83%
> Expenditure as pct. Of GDP: 1.9%
> Military spending per capita: $180

No major military power has ramped up its military like China in the past decade. Since 2009, the nation’s military expenditure has increased by 83%, and this year represents the 24th straight year of growth in military spending. The world’s most populous nation requires males ages 18-22 years old to serve in the military for at least two years and has an armed forces size of 2.7 million personnel. China is also bulking up its navy — its second aircraft carrier is near completion.

Click here to see the countries spending the most on war.