Which are the members with the greatest military power in NATO?

(CNN Spanish) — At the time of identify and compare armies in the world, It is common to think of the United States and Russia, which possess the two most powerful armed forces by a large margin, and then it is customary to mention nations with huge populations or resources – or both, such as China and India – to continue with small technologically advanced countries. like Israel or Taiwan.

But there is an entity that, as a whole, accumulates more military power —at least on paper— than any country in the world: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which celebrates this June 29 and 30 a summit in Madrid.

Founded in 1949 To counter the Soviet Union’s ground military might in post-World War II Europe, NATO has had a long and contentious history, marked by internal debates about its role and almost constant expansion.

Recently, it became the center of one of the arguments Russian President Vladimir Putin to justify their invasion of Ukrainearguing that the entry into NATO in recent years of a platoon of ex-Soviet and Eastern European countries formerly under Moscow’s orbit was a threat to Russia, and that he would not let the same happen to Ukraine.

What are the most powerful armies in NATO?

A Polish soldier aboard an armored vehicle, with the NATO flag.

NATO was not going through its best moment – it had discussions among its members about its own role— but after the invasion it tried to close ranks: it coordinated its response as an organization and in support of Ukraineopened the doors to Sweden and Finland —to which he opposes Turkey- to start the admission process and even Germany, one of its main members, announced a notable increase in its military spending after years of lag.

The might of NATO

La Otan consists by 30 countries (28 Europeans and 2 North Americans) and it is a very varied group: from the gigantic United States, the world’s leading economy and home to some 330 million people, to the depopulated Iceland, an island in the middle of the Atlantic with little more of 300,000 inhabitants, and the tiny Luxembourg and Montenegro.

But its members include some of the most powerful and capable—and historically relevant—military forces in the world. According to the index Global Firepower, Among the 15 most powerful armies in the world, there are 5 from NATO: the United States (1st), France (7th), the United Kingdom (8th), Italy (11th) and Turkey (13th).

Germany is in 16th place, but this is due in part to its lag in recent decades in terms of military spending, something that the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz he said he will try to remedy in the coming years. When the decision hits, it is expected that the country —fifth global economy and a key player in the defense industry—move up several places on the list.

In addition, NATO members include three countries with nuclear arsenals —United States, France and the United Kingdom—, of the nine currently in the world that have these weapons of mass destruction.

These three countries are also permanent members —with veto power— of the UN Security Council.

These are the most powerful armies in NATO

*According to him Military Balance 2022 del International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Global Firepower y el Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)


It’s about the world’s leading military powerwith more than 1.3 million members in its Armed Forces, some 13,200 aircraft, 6,600 tanks and 484 warships, including 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriersdozens of destroyers and submarines.

In addition, account with some 5,550 nuclear warheads (between deployed and stored), a figure equaled only by Russia, and the largest military expenditure in the world, valued at about US $ 777,000 million.


The French Armed Forces count with 203,000 soldiers, in addition to 1,055 aircraft, 406 tanks and 180 warships, including a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle (Only France and the United States dominate this technology at the moment).

France’s nuclear arsenal ascends to 290 warheads, and its military spending is about $60 billion.

NATO’s security agenda for the next decade 1:00

United Kingdom

NATO’s third nuclear power has a arsenal of 225 nuclear warheadswhich is in expansionand military spending of some US$ 71,000 million.

Your Armed Forces count also with 153,000 members, 693 aircraft, 227 tanks and 75 warships, including two large aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth class.


The Bundeswehr, the German Armed Forces, has 183,000 members, who operate 617 planes, 266 tanks and 80 warships of all kinds.

Its military spending amounts to some $56 billion, according to IISS, but this is expected to rise in coming years following announcements by the Scholz government to raise the total in 2022 to US $ 105 billion.


The Italian Armed Forces count with some 161,000 members, in addition to 862 aircraft, 200 tanks and 184 warships.

The military expenditure of this Mediterranean country is about US$ 33,000 million, according to IISS.

What are the most powerful armies in NATO? 1:31


Turkey bill with some 355,000 active soldiers, 1,057 aircraft, 3,022 tanks and 156 warships, numbers that are only surpassed by the United States within NATO.

However, its military spending is about $10.2 billion, according to IISS, well below the other countries on this list.

other members

There are other countries within NATO that have significant numbers of personnel in their Armed Forces, according to IISS. Such is the case of Greece (143,400), Spain (122,850), Poland (114,050), Romania (71,500) and Bulgaria (36,950).

And the total?

Counting the troops and equipment of only these six countries, the most powerful among the 30 NATO members, the Alliance has some 2,355,000 active soldiers, 17,400 aircraft, 10,700 tanks, and 1,159 planes, plus 6,065 nuclear warheads.

It would be the most formidable military force on the planet, but only on paper: the bulk of this power is still in the United States, an ocean away from Europe, where NATO’s main security problems are located. And, moreover, it is not the same homogeneous army, but rather a set of armed forces separated by language, culture and capabilities.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.