Who is the member with the largest military power in NATO?

(CNN Spanish) — When identifying and comparing militaries in the world, it is common to think of the United States and Russia, who have the two most powerful armed forces by a wide margin, and then to mention countries with vast populations or resources – Or both, such as China and India – to continue with smaller technologically advanced countries such as Israel or Taiwan.

But there is one entity that amasses more military power, at least on paper, than any other country in the world as a whole: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Established in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union’s land military power in Europe after World War II, NATO has had a long and controversial history, marked by internal debate over its role and almost continuous expansion.

Since 2022 it has become central to one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s arguments to justify his invasion of Ukraine, alleging that the former Soviet and Eastern European countries under Moscow in recent years have One platoon has entered NATO. Orbit was a threat to Russia and it would not let the same happen to Ukraine.

What are the most powerful armies in NATO?

A Polish soldier riding on an armored vehicle with the NATO flag.

NATO was not going through its best times – there was ongoing discussion among its members about its role – but after the invasion it tried to close ranks: it coordinated its response as an organization and In support of Ukraine, it opened the door to Sweden and Finland – which was opposed by Turkey – opposed starting the accession process and even Germany, one of its main members, after years of lag. Announced a significant increase in its military spending.

NATO power

NATO is made up of 30 countries (28 European and 2 North American) and is a very diverse group: from the giant United States, which has the world’s largest economy and is home to about 330 million people, to an island in the middle, To deprived Iceland. Atlantic, and smaller Luxembourg and Montenegro, with more than 300,000 inhabitants.

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

Germany ranks 16th, but this is partly due to its lack of military spending in recent decades, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has said it will try to correct in the coming years. When the decision comes, it is expected that the country – the fifth largest global economy and a major player in the defense industry – will move up several places on the list.

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

These three countries are also permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with veto power.

These are NATO’s most powerful forces

*As per Military Balance 2022 of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Global Firepower and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)


It is the world’s leading military power, with more than 1.3 million members in its armed forces, approximately 13,200 aircraft, 6,600 tanks and 484 warships, including 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, dozens of destroyers and submarines.

In addition, it has approximately 5,550 nuclear weapons (both deployed and stored), a figure equaled only by Russia, and has the largest military expenditure in the world, valued at approximately US$777 billion.


The French armed forces have 203,000 soldiers, in addition to 1,055 aircraft, 406 tanks and 180 warships, including one nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle (currently only France and the United States are adept at this technology).

France’s nuclear arsenal amounts to 290 warheads, and its military expenditure is approximately US$60 billion.

United Kingdom

NATO’s third nuclear power has an expanded arsenal of 225 nuclear weapons and military spending of approximately $71 billion.

Its armed forces number 153,0000 members, 693 aircraft, 227 tanks and 75 warships, including two large aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth class.


Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, have 183,000 members, operating 617 aircraft, 266 tanks and 80 warships of all types.

According to the IISS, its military spending is about US$56 billion, but this is expected to increase in the coming years after the Scholz government announced plans to increase the total amount to US$105 billion in 2022.


The Italian Armed Forces has approximately 161,000 members, in addition to 862 aircraft, 200 tanks and 184 warships.

According to the IISS, the military expenditure of this Mediterranean country is approximately US$33 billion.


Turkey has approximately 355,000 active troops, 1,057 aircraft, 3,022 tanks and 156 warships, a number exceeded only by the United States within NATO.

However, according to the IISS, its military expenditure is approximately US$10.2 billion, which is significantly less than other countries on this list.

other members

According to IISS, there are other countries within NATO that have significant numbers of personnel in their armed forces. Same is the case with Greece (143,400), Spain (122,850), Poland (114,050), Romania (71,500) and Bulgaria (36,950).

And total?

The most powerful of NATO’s 30 members, taking into account the forces and equipment of only these six countries, the alliance has approximately 2,355,000 active troops, 17,400 aircraft, 10,700 tanks and 1,159 aircraft, in addition to 6,065 nuclear weapons.,

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


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