As we approach the end of 2018, various annual rankings are ready, so as for the military field. Recently the website of the US Business Insider took the lead and published the 2018 Global Firepower ranking. According to the ranking, the US, Russia, and China were among the top three. However, Republic of Korea (ROK) took everyone by surprise to become the dark horse as its ranking jumped substantially.
Based on the data published by Global Firepower (GFP), a website specializing in ranking major and minor global military powers, Business Insider drew on 55 individual factors, including the weapon diversity, total populations, available manpower, geography, number of missiles, logistical resources, natural resources, developing level of local industry, and capability to deal with large-scale conflicts. Among the 136 countries and regions listed in the ranking, the US, Russia, and China are among the top three, followed by India, France, UK, the ROK, Japan, Turkey, and Germany.
The ROK came as the "dark horse” in the ranking since it previously ranked 11th and 12th in the same ranking published by Business Insider in 2016 and 2017 respectively. This year, its ranking has jumped substantially and is ranked 7th overtaking Japan, Turkey, Germany, and other countries.
The ROK does not stand out in terms of the size of the active military, military expenditure, number of equipment, and the level of modernization. In many respects, the ROK lags behind Japan and other countries. Why did the ROK achieve such a high ranking this year?
In fact, the firepower ranking by Business Insider has no new conceptions. Although the website claimed that the ranking is the result of comprehensive evaluation of various factors based on the data released by Global Firepower in the first half of this year, there is basically no difference between these two military rankings at all. The top 10 are exactly the same and the ROK has ranked 7th in both charts. Business Insider chose to release a firepower ranking that is basically the same as that by Global Firepower because it wants to hype up things at the year end.
According to the firepower ranking published by Global Firepower, the ROK's rise to the 7th place is due to its emphasis on national defense construction, as well as owning the world's sixth largest active military manpower (630,000) and the second largest active reserve forces (2.97 million). Furthermore, the ROK has also proposed the development of a strategic air force with integrated air and space capabilities and a strategic mobile fleet with ocean-going combat capabilities.
Obviously, Business Insider made use of these reasons to promote the ROK's ranking. However, think tanks in the US and Europe issue global and regional military strength rankings every year. The website of Business Insider also released a European firepower ranking earlier. Year after year, such rankings have become old and are difficult to attract people's attention without hyping up something. We do not have to take these rankings seriously.
Disclaimer: The author is Ping Yuan. The article was published on the China's National Defense newspaper on December 3. It is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military online.