China posing 'greater and greater threat' warns IDS
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China’s People’s Liberation Army is a huge military operation consisting of millions of enlisted personnel. According to Statista data, China boasts the highest number of active military personnel in the world, with 2,185,000 people as of 2021.
Chinese military personnel are split up among five military branches, including Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force and the Strategic Support Force.
The Chinese military units are spread around the wide-spanning country at five theatres of command, which are based on geographical location.
Second to China in terms of army size is India, which has 1,445,000 active military personnel, and the US narrowly comes in third place with 1,400,000.
In descending order in terms of army size, the top 10 countries consist of China, India, the US, North Korea, Russia, Pakistan, South Korea, Iran, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.
At the bottom of the Statista analysis is Bangladesh, with an army of 204,000 active military personnel.
But the UK does not feature on the rankings at all, perhaps because the UK actually has a comparatively small army in relation to other countries.
All of the aforementioned top 10 countries for army size have larger armies than the UK does, as do other countries such as Egypt, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Turkey.
The UK’s European neighbour France also has a larger army than the UK, with 270,000 active military personnel in 2021.
According to House of Commons Library data, there were just under 159,000 full-time personnel in the UK Armed Forces, both trained and untrained, as of April 1, 2021.
The largest proportion of UK military personnel serves in the Army (56 percent), with an equal divide of remaining personnel for the Royal Navy/Marines and the Royal Air Force (RAF).
In March 2021, the UK’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced there would be a dramatic decrease in the number of full-time UK troops by 2025.
The UK army will be reduced to 72,500 people by 2025 under the plans, further diminishing the UK’s military presence on the global stage.
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The UK’s military operations overseas have also dramatically wound down in recent years, with complete withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years taking place in August 2021.
The UK entered Afghanistan in 2001 alongside the US, who spearheaded the campaign to oust terrorist forces from the country that had coordinated the September 11 attacks on America.
Over this two-decade period, 457 UK armed forces personnel died while serving in Afghanistan.
Thousands of military personnel were also admitted to hospital for injuries during this time.
US President Joe Biden announced earlier this year that the US’s long presence in Afghanistan would end during his first presidential administration.
But the fall of the Afghan capital of Kabul in August 2021, while the US was preparing to leave the country, was widely regarded as a failure for Mr Biden and his UK allies.
A scramble ensued to evacuate US and UK military personnel, diplomatic staff and Afghan refugees before the Taliban-enforced deadline of August 31.
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