These were the world’s 15 weakest militaries in 2018

After nearly two decades focused on fighting terrorists and insurgents, the US has again put its focus on battling uniformed militaries, especially those of its two foremost rivals: China and Russia.

Those three countries field the world’s most sophisticated and powerful militaries.

While head-to-head comparisons of military strength can be highly subjective, Global Firepower’s 2018 Military Strength Ranking tries to fill that void by drawing on more than 55 factors to assign a Power Index score to 136 countries – adding Ireland, Montenegro, and Liberia to last year’s list.

The ranking assesses the diversity of each country’s weapons and their available manpower. Geography, logistical capacity, available natural resources, and the status of local industry are also taken into account.

While recognized nuclear powers receive a bonus, their nuclear stockpiles are not factored into the score. Landlocked countries are not docked for lacking a navy, but countries with navies are penalized if their fleets lack a mixture of ship classes that magnify a force’s power.

Read more: These are the world’s 20 most dangerous countries, and photos showing what life is like there

In general, a country’s current political and military leadership was not considered (though NATO members got a boost) but financial health and stability are.

The top power index score is 0.0000, which is “realistically unattainable,” according to Global Firepower. The closer a military is to this number, the more powerful it is.

Here are the forces that came in at the bottom of the list – the world’s weakest militaries.


Nicaragua — overall rank: 122

caption
Soldiers take part in a military parade for the 38th anniversary of the founding of the Nicaraguan army, in Managua, September 2, 2017.
source
REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Power Index rating: 2.9577

Total population: 6,025,951

Total military personnel: 13,000

Total aircraft strength: 20

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 84

Total naval assets: 30

Defense budget: $44.2 million


Madagascar — overall rank: 123

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Soldiers disperse crowds gathering near barracks in Ivato, about 10 miles outside the capital Antananarivo, Madagascar, November 19 2010.
source
Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Power Index rating: 3.0136

Total population: 25,054,161

Total military personnel: 21,600

Total aircraft strength: 2

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 12

Total naval assets: 8

Defense budget: $56 million


Bosnia and Herzegovina — overall rank: 124

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Bosnian soldiers during a troop review at a US Forces-Afghanistan facility, March 2015.
source
Vanessa Vilarreal/USFOR-A Public Affairs

Power Index rating: 3.0321

Total population: 3,856,181

Total military personnel: 12,750

Total aircraft strength: 20

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 149

Total naval assets: 0

Defense budget: $250 million


Dominican Republic — overall rank: 125

caption
US Marines train with members of the Dominican Republic military during a Marine Corps martial arts subject-matter-expert exchange, September 13, 2010.
source
Wikimedia Commons

Power Index rating: 3.1398

Total population: 10,734,247

Total military personnel: 65,925

Total aircraft strength: 62

Fighter aircraft: 8

Combat tanks: 6

Total naval assets: 33

Defense budget: $110.85 million


Gabon — overall rank: 126

caption
A military convoy in Gabon’s capital of Libreville, following a ruling by the constitutional court confirming the election victory of President Ali Bongo, September 24, 2016.
source
REUTERS/Edward McAllister

Power Index rating: 3.2781

Total population: 1,772,255

Total military personnel: 4,850

Total aircraft strength: 24

Fighter aircraft: 6

Combat tanks: 0

Total naval assets: 10

Defense budget: $81.5 million


Namibia — overall rank: 127

caption
US Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Kyle Brewer conducts mine detector training with the Namibian Defense Force Combat Engineer Company and the Namibian Police Bomb Squad, March 23, 2017.
source
Navy/EOD Technician 1st Class Tyler Brooks

Power Index rating: 3.5441

Total population: 2,484,780

Total military personnel: 15,500

Total aircraft strength: 31

Fighter aircraft: 6

Combat tanks: 10

Total naval assets: 8

Defense budget: $120 million


Panama — overall rank: 128

caption
A boy watches a parade to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Panama’s separation from Colombia, in Panama City, November 3, 2013.
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REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Power Index rating: 3.7436

Total population: 3,753,142

Total military personnel: 34,000

Total aircraft strength: 27

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 0

Total naval assets: 20

Defense budget: $145 million


Mauritania — overall rank: 129

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Troops from Mauritania on the Champs Elysees during France’s traditional Bastille Day parade in Paris, July 14, 2010.
source
REUTERS/Mal Langsdon

Power Index rating: 3.7474

Total population: 3,758,571

Total military personnel: 20,870

Total aircraft strength: 26

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 35

Total naval assets: 5

Defense budget: $39.1 million


Central African Republic — overall rank: 130

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Soldiers from the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) stand at attention during a registration briefing for the induction of soldiers at a temporary military base in the capital of Bangui, March 10, 2014.
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REUTERS/Camille Lepage

Power Index rating: 3.7667

Total population: 5,625,118

Total military personnel: 5,825

Total aircraft strength: 4

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 4

Total naval assets: 0

Defense budget: $18.5 million


El Salvador — overall rank: 131

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A Salvadoran soldier participates in an anti-gang search operation in San Salvador June 21, 2015.
source
Reuters

Power Index rating: 3.7741

Total population: 6,172,011

Total military personnel: 47,000

Total aircraft strength: 52

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 0

Total naval assets: 4

Defense budget: $165 million


Somalia — overall rank: 132

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Somali government forces hold their positions during gunfire after a suicide-bomb attack outside Nasahablood hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, June 25, 2016.
source
Thomson Reuters

Power Index rating: 4.0425

Total population: 11,031,386

Total military personnel: 15,900

Total aircraft strength: 25

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 140

Total naval assets: 3

Defense budget: $58.96 million


Sierra Leone — overall rank: 133

caption
Sierra Leone soldiers listen to a US instructor during peacekeeping training at Hastings, outside the country’s capital, Freetown, October 15, 2010.
source
Reuters

Power Index rating: 4.7266

Total population: 6,163,195

Total military personnel: 10,750

Total aircraft strength: 5

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 2

Total naval assets: 10

Defense budget: $13.04 million


Suriname — overall rank: 134

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Suriname President Desi Bouterse reviews of the troops at the Memre Buku military barracks in Paramaribo, February 4, 2014.
source
Reuters / Ranu Abhelakh

Power Index rating: 5.1689

Total population: 591,919

Total military personnel: 2,270

Total aircraft strength: 3

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 0

Total naval assets: 3

Defense budget: $67.4 million


Liberia — overall rank: 135

caption
Liberian soldiers check people travelling in Bomi county, August 11, 2014.
source
Stringer/Reuters

Power Index rating: 5.5241

Total population: 4,689,021

Total military personnel: 1,500

Total aircraft strength: 0

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 0

Total naval assets: 0

Defense budget: $10 million


Bhutan — overall rank: 136

caption
Royal Bhutan army band members perform during the Imtrat Mela, a fair in Haa district, about 75 miles from Thimphu, October 4, 2009.
source
REUTERS/Singye Wangchuk

Power Index rating: 7.5497

Total population: 758,288

Total military personnel: 75,000

Total aircraft strength: 2

Fighter aircraft: 0

Combat tanks: 0

Total naval assets: 0 (landlocked)

Defense budget: $10 million