A question posted recently on Quora asked, "How much stronger is the United States military compared with the next strongest power?" Check out these answers and keep the discussion going. Add your own thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
By Daniel Kearns, former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division
1,000 times. Maybe more.
No other military or combination of militaries could even begin to inflict the slightest numbers of casualties on the United States military in a conventional war.
Consider: The U.S. spends close to what the entire rest of the world spends in defense. $711 billion. Per year. The next closest is China at $143 billion.
The M1 Abrams tank has seen more combat than just about any other tank on the battlefield today. It has never been knocked out by enemy fire. (Completely killed). Ever.
China has less than 500 Type 99 tanks, that have just been developed, and are not even close to being as good as the Abrams. We have 8,700 Abrams.
We have 10 aircraft carriers. The good kind. Everyone else has 10. Combined. And they are mostly small ships that can launch helicopters.
There are 8,400 attack helicopters in the world. The U.S. has 6,400 of them.
The United States has engaged in every type of ground warfare in the last 20 years. From mountains to jungles, and from desert to urban, we have the some of the most experienced warriors in the world. No other country comes close to the amount of combat veterans that we have.
We own all the satellites that guide GPS systems. We have all the advanced stealth technology. The latest sensors? U.S. The latest information systems? U.S. An Abrams tank can see a target, the tank commander can instantly send that target to every tank in his company.
Now you have 14 tanks looking for you. Oh, and it also uploads to every Apache helicopter in the area. Every indirect and direct fire system in the area knows what you are and where you are. Your survivability just dropped to 0. Instantly.
Fighting a conventional war against the U.S. would be like a 3-year-old child playing chess against Gary Kasparov. They wouldn't even know what they were supposed to be looking at.
*Edit: The purpose of the answer is not borne out of some nationalistic sense of pride, although I am a U.S. veteran and consider myself patriotic, but rather to call attention to how much larger the U.S. military industrial complex is than the entire rest of the world.
I truly believe that the rest of the world really has no clue just how powerful the U.S. military is. We must begin to question the disparity of lethality between the U.S. and the rest of the world. But we must also question, if not the U.S., who? Who do we want to have the largest military? China? North Korea? Or an ally like the UK?
Do we need to have 1,000 times the lethality of the closest military in strength? Or would 100 times suffice? I don't have the answer to those questions, nor am I purporting to. But I think it's important to begin a dialogue.
By Alan Cohen, US Army veteran
Well, the next strongest power is Russia.
I seriously doubt that 1000 times better is the case.
The US serviceman, right now, is way ahead of his counter parts, and for a simple reason; he has been in combat. When, I arrived in Vietnam, I thought I was the best trained that I ever would be. However, when I left I realized I had become a much better soldier than training could have made me.
If history teaches us anything, it is this—just because you look good on paper, don't bet on it translating into a victory. Vietnam taught us that, and then turned around and taught China the same lesson. SinoVietnamese War Seriously, China couldn't squash Vietnam like a bug? Even if you chalk this one up as a draw, Vietnam comes out way ahead of China.
Could any country mount an attack on the US? Probably not.
Could we defeat any country in the world? I seriously doubt it.
We couldn't even occupy enough territory in Russia or China to have a victory. We are stronger than anyone else; but I wouldn't expect us to fight a land war in Russia or China or India without taking significant casualties.
My guess would be, the US would be twice as strong as Russia, if we were engaged in Russia, and maybe five times stronger than Europe, if we were engaged in Europe. If the fight took place in North America, I think the chances of the US being able to overpower an adversary would increase dramatically. They might get an airborne unit into Alaska, but not much more than that.