Military prowess can be difficult to measure. Some forces are stronger in certain areas of national defense than others. All of the premier fighting forces in the world have nuclear capability to destroy the earth many times over, which no one really wants. The truth about contemporary military might is that it is generally measured by air superiority and quick-strike ability. Absolute numbers are not necessarily the best barometer, but a barometer nonetheless.
No discussion of military might is complete without discussion of NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO is a combination of national forces that are affiliated by virtue of inclusion in the United Nations. It is largely comprised of nations with nominal military strength and the United States. NATO has operated as the security force of the United Nations and has been augmented with the recent passing of the National Defense Authorization Act in the United States. The US President is now compelled to provide some sort of assistance from the US military if the United Nations calls for help. This could include the full military arsenal of all parties in the event of a global emergency and the combination would greatly enhance capabilities while setting distinct groups of allies.
United States of America
Easily considered the most elite fighting force in world history, the United States military is comprised of four divisions that work in conjunction and serve as subsets of the Army and Navy. The Marines are a subset of the Navy and effectively served as the infantry division of United States sea power. The Air Force is the most advanced technically of all branches and works primarily in conjunction with United Sates ground forces as cover and support. The United States Coast Guard is also part of the Navy alignment, but the Coast Guard is primarily concerned with national defense and support in coastal areas. The US military consists of 1.5 million active duty soldiers and the same number of active reservists, with another 4.2 million of military age. United States air superiority is recognized across the world, though there are a few other military forces on the international scale that would be formidable.
The Russian military was not disbanded during the re-structuring of the Russian economy from communism to a capitalistic model. Much of the same arsenal is still operational, not to mention the continuing maintenance and enhancement of its national military defense. Russia's current military ranking shows a total active force of 1.2 million soldiers with an active reserve of 750K and nearly 50 million fit to serve. Russia is not a member of NATO and often opposes United Nations decisions to implement sanctions and military intervention as a member of the National Security Council, as does China.
Republic of China
China is the leading national population center on the globe and has manpower options that the United States does not enjoy. Technology is America's claim of power. Though China is also advanced technologically, they have a much larger fighting force and over 600 million men fit for duty, though China is determined to maintain a volunteer force until absolutely necessary. China has an active military of 2.3 million soldiers with another 800K reservists, but the true measure of the Chinese military strength may be the number of available men fit for service and of draft or enlistment age in the event of conscription. The military has historically been a very politically advantageous occupation in China and is considered a source of national pride.
Many people do not realize that the Indian military is more prominent that often advanced. Indian troop levels include 1.3 million active duty with 1.7 million active reservists. India has been largely incorporated into the British Commonwealth for centuries, though they are an independent nation today. The economies are still connected and Indian has contributed to many international peace-keeping forces. India, like China, is also a population center and the number of possible military forces could make the nation competitive with any other nation.
Kevin Price is a career soldier and guest author at Military Degree Programs, a site with guides to the best military degrees.