President Trump is seeking record spending levels to bolster the U.S. military. With a growing nuclear threat from North Korea and instability in Iran, a strong American military is critical to national defense and the future security of Western civilization. With increased Russian rhetoric, concerns of a confrontation with the former Soviet Empire have reached heights not seen since the Cold War. So it is natural to ask the question, Who would win? If Russia and the U.S. came to an impasse over Syria, Iran, Korea, or other hotbeds of unrest, whose military would be superior? From several studies, we draw the following conclusions.
- Annual military spending: U.S. ($664 billion), Russia ($47 billion)
- Population: U.S. (321 million), Russia (143 million)
- Fit for service: U.S. (120 million), Russia (47 million)
- Active frontline personnel: U.S. (1.4 million), Russia (766,000)
- Reserve personnel: U.S. (1.1 million), Russia (2.5 million)
- Tanks: U.S. (8,800), Russia (15,400)
- Armed fighting vehicles: U.S. (41,000), Russia (31,300)
- Aircraft: U.S. (13,444), Russia (3,547)
- Aircraft carriers: U.S. (19), Russia (1)
- Submarines: U.S. (75), Russia (60)
- Nuclear warheads: U.S. (5,100), Russia (2,200)
- Oil reserves: U.S. (37 billion barrels), Russia (80 billion barrels)
- Allies: U.S. (54 countries), Russia (5 countries)
For those of you keeping score at home, of these 13 categories, the United States has the advantage in 10 of them. That’s a 10-3 advantage. Of course, some categories matter more than others. For example, one has to be concerned with the 2,200 nuclear warheads in Russia’s possession. At some point, having more nuclear weapons is a limited advantage, as it only takes so much to destroy the enemy.
What can we conclude? Clearly, the U.S. is on a military level of its own. With our advantages, economy, and military spending, it’s hard to imagine a return to the parity between the two powers that existed during the Cold War. However, with the evolution of modern weaponry and growing number of nuclear powers, concern for peace is legitimate. America has the finest military force in the history of the world. And clearly, this is not the time to back off.
But a military advantage is no guarantee of victory. The Roman Empire fell from within, not due to any kind of military superiority from a competing regime. America did not win freedom from Great Britain because she had a military advantage. Israel did not win the six-day war because of her military might.
But none of this is a good excuse for letting down our guard. While America is not great because she is strong, it is important for her to remain strong.
Ronald Reagan understood that a strong military is the key to not having to use the military. When America forgets this powerful lesson, she will become vulnerable to growing international threats. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, may we all pray that day never comes.