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April, 12

2024 Rankings of The Strongest Army in Africa

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The Top Best Armies in Africa are considered the best because of their manpower. But which African army is the best? This is a question that military experts have debated for years. There are several factors to consider, such as the size and structure of the army, its equipment and capabilities, combat experience, and its role in regional security.

What Does It Mean for an Army to Be “The Best”?

There is no one answer to what makes an army “the best.” Different factors, such as size, equipment, training, and combat experience, can be considered. However, some of the key factors that contribute to a strong military include:

  • Well-equipped and highly trained personnel: A strong military must have well-equipped and highly trained personnel. This means that soldiers need to have access to modern weapons and equipment, and they need to be trained in how to use them effectively.
  • Effective leadership: A strong military also needs to have effective leadership. This means that commanders need to be able to make sound decisions and motivate their troops.
  • Strong logistics: A strong military needs to have strong logistics support. This means it must be able to transport and supply its troops effectively.
  • High morale: A strong military needs to have high morale. This means that soldiers need to be motivated and believe in the mission they are fighting for.

Why Is It Important to Have a Strong Military in Africa?

A strong military is important for several reasons. First, it can deter aggression from other countries. Second, it can protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Third, it can be used to support humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.

Historical Background of African Armies

The historical background of African armies is a captivating mosaic of diverse cultures and military traditions. Over centuries, the continent has witnessed the rise of formidable armies within ancient kingdoms and empires. From the mighty Egyptian legions of antiquity to the illustrious Ghanaian, Mali, and Songhai empires, military prowess was pivotal in shaping the narrative of Africa’s past.

One of the most memorable feats in African military history unfolded in the Battle of Adwa in 1896, a momentous clash where Ethiopian forces valiantly triumphed over the Italian army, successfully resisting European colonization. This resounding victory underscored African armies’ resilience and strategic brilliance and served as a beacon of inspiration for nations worldwide in their struggle against colonialism.

Equally significant is the indomitable spirit of African soldiers who, during both World Wars, fought alongside their European counterparts, making invaluable contributions to the triumph of the Allied forces. These exceptional achievements testify to African soldiers’ unwavering courage and determination throughout the annals of history.

While the size and composition of African armies vary across the continent, numerous nations have attempted to modernize their military forces. Some have committed to expanding their armed forces, bolstering manpower and military equipment. Others have championed diversification by including more women in their ranks and actively promoting gender equality. Endeavors to enhance professionalism and specialization within African armies have led to substantial improvements in training and readiness, ensuring that soldiers are well-equipped to confront the multifaceted challenges that may arise.

The List of the 2024 Top Strongest Armies in Africa

Africa is home to some of the most powerful militaries in the world. The following is an overview of the top 10 best armies in Africa, according to the Global Firepower Index:

  1. Egypt
  2. Algeria
  3. South Africa
  4. Nigeria
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Morocco
  7. Angola
  8. Sudan
  9. Zimbabwe
  10. Kenya

These armies are well-equipped and highly trained, vital to regional security. They have all participated in peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations and are investing in new equipment and training to improve their capabilities in the future.

1. The Egyptian Army

History and Background of the Egyptian Army

The Egyptian army has a long and distinguished history, dating back to the ancient Egyptian empire. The modern Egyptian army was established in 1922 after Egypt gained independence from the United Kingdom. The Egyptian army has played a major role in several conflicts, including the Arab-Israeli wars, the Yom Kippur War, and the Gulf War.

Size and Structure of the Egyptian Army

The Egyptian army is the largest in Africa, with over 450,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and warships. The Egyptian army is divided into branches, including the ground forces, the air force, and the navy.

Equipment and Capabilities of the Egyptian Army

The Egyptian army is well-equipped with a variety of modern weapons and equipment. Some of the most notable items of Egyptian military equipment include:

  • F-16 fighter jets
  • M1 Abrams tanks
  • Apache attack helicopters
  • Mistral air defense systems
  • FREMM frigates

Combat Experience of the Egyptian Army

The Egyptian army has extensive combat experience, having participated in several conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the Egyptian army has participated include:

  • Arab-Israeli wars (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973)
  • Yom Kippur War (1973)
  • Gulf War (1990-1991)
  • Libyan Civil War (2011)
  • Yemeni Civil War (2014-present)

Egypt’s Role in Regional Security

Egypt plays a vital role in regional security. It is a member of the Arab League and the African Union and a leading contributor to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations. Egypt is also a strong ally of the United States and other Western countries.

2. The Algerian Army

History and Background of the Algerian Army

The Algerian army was established in 1962 after Algeria gained independence from France. The Algerian army played a major role in the War of Independence (1954-1962). The Algerian army has also been involved in many other conflicts, including the Western Sahara War and the Algerian Civil War.

Size and Structure of the Algerian Army

The Algerian army is the second-largest army in Africa, with over 200,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets

Equipment and Capabilities of the Algerian Army

Some of the most notable items of Algerian military equipment include:

  • Su-30 fighter jets
  • T-90 tanks
  • Mi-28 attack helicopters
  • Buk air defense systems
  • MEKO A-200 frigates
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Combat Experience of the Algerian Army

The Algerian army has extensive combat experience, having participated in several conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the Algerian army has participated include:

  • Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962)
  • Western Sahara War (1975-1991)
  • Algerian Civil War (1991-2002)

Algeria plays a vital role in regional security. It is a member of the African Union and the Arab League and a leading contributor to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations. Algeria is also a strong ally of Russia and other Eastern countries.

3. The South African Army

The South African army was established in 1912 after the Union of South Africa was formed. The South African army played a major role in World War I and II. The South African army was also involved in the Border War (1966-1989), fought between South Africa, Angola, and Namibia.

Size and Structure of the South African Army

The South African army is the third-largest army in Africa, with over 90,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and warships. The South African army is divided into different branches, including the land forces, the air force, and the navy.

Equipment and capabilities of the South African Army

Some of the most notable items of South African military equipment include:

  • Gripen fighter jets
  • Rooivalk attack helicopters
  • Umkhonto surface-to-air missile system
  • Valour-class frigates

Combat Experience of the South African Army

The South African army has extensive combat experience, having participated in several conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the South African army has participated include:

  • World War I (1914-1918)
  • World War II (1939-1945)
  • Border War (1966-1989)

South Africa’s Role in Regional Security

South Africa plays a vital role in regional security. It is a member of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). South Africa is also a leading contributor to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations.

4. The Nigerian Army

The Nigerian army was established in 1960 after Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom. The Nigerian army has played a major role in several domestic conflicts, including the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970) and the Niger Delta insurgency (2003-present). The Nigerian army has also participated in many international conflicts, including the peacekeeping mission in Somalia (1993-1995) and the fight against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin.

Size and Structure of the Nigerian Army

The Nigerian army is the fourth-largest army in Africa, with over 120,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and warships. The Nigerian army is divided into several different branches, including the land forces, the air force, and the navy.

Equipment and Capabilities of the Nigerian Army

Some of the most notable items of Nigerian military equipment include:

  • F-7 fighter jets
  • T-72 tanks
  • Mi-35 attack helicopters
  • S-125 Neva surface-to-air missile system
  • Meko 360 frigates

Combat Experience of the Nigerian Army

The Nigerian army has extensive combat experience, having participated in several conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the Nigerian army has participated include:

  • Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970)
  • Niger Delta insurgency (2003-present)
  • Peacekeeping mission in Somalia (1993-1995)
  • Fight against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin

5. The Ethiopian Army

The Ethiopian army is one of the oldest armies in the world, with a history dating back over 3,000 years. The Ethiopian army has played a major role in defending Ethiopia from foreign invaders for centuries. The Ethiopian army also played a major role in the liberation of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993.

Size and Structure of the Ethiopian Army

The Ethiopian army is the fifth-largest army in Africa, with over 175,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and warships. The Ethiopian army is divided into many different branches, including the land forces, the air force, and the navy.

Equipment and Capabilities of the Ethiopian Army

Some of the most notable items of Ethiopian military equipment include:

  • Su-27 fighter jets
  • T-72 tanks
  • Mi-24 attack helicopters
  • S-300 surface-to-air missile system
  • Lupo-class frigates

Combat Experience of the Ethiopian Army

The Ethiopian army has extensive combat experience, having participated in many conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the Ethiopian army has participated include:

  • First Italo-Ethiopian War (1895-1896)
  • Second Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-1936)
  • Eritrean War of Independence (1961-1991)
  • Ethiopian-Somali War (1977-1978)
  • Tigray War (2020-present)

Ethiopia’s Role in Regional Security

Ethiopia plays a vital role in regional security. It is a member of the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Ethiopia is also a leading contributor to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations in East Africa.

6. The Moroccan Army

The Moroccan army has a long and distinguished history, dating back to the ancient Berber kingdoms. The modern Moroccan army was established in 1956 after Morocco gained independence from France. The Moroccan army has played a major role in several conflicts, including the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962) and the Western Sahara War (1975-1991).

Size and Structure of the Moroccan Army

The Moroccan army is the sixth-largest army in Africa, with over 250,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and warships. The Moroccan army is divided into several different branches, including the land forces, the air force, and the navy.

Equipment and Capabilities of the Moroccan Army

Some of the most notable items of Moroccan military equipment include:

  • F-16 fighter jets
  • M1A1 Abrams tanks
  • AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
  • MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system
  • Sigma-class frigates

Combat Experience of the Moroccan Army

The Moroccan army has extensive combat experience, having participated in several conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the Moroccan army has participated include:

  • Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962)
  • Western Sahara War (1975-1991)

Morocco’s Role in Regional Security

Morocco plays a vital role in regional security. It is a member of the African Union and the Arab League. Morocco also contributes to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations in North Africa.

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7. The Angolan Army

The Angolan army was established in 1975 after Angola gained independence from Portugal. The Angolan army played a major role in the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002). The Angolan army has also participated in many other conflicts, including the Border War (1966-1989) and the Second Congolese Civil War (1998-2003).

Size and Structure of the Angolan Army

The Angolan army is the seventh-largest army in Africa, with over 100,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and warships. The Angolan army is divided into different branches, including the land forces, the air force, and the navy.

Equipment and Capabilities of the Angolan Army

Some of the most notable items of Angolan military equipment include:

  • Su-30 fighter jets
  • T-72 tanks
  • Mi-35 attack helicopters
  • S-300 surface-to-air missile system
  • Lupo-class frigates

Combat Experience of the Angolan Army

The Angolan army has extensive combat experience, having participated in several conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the Angolan army has participated include:

  • Angolan Civil War (1975-2002)
  • Border War (1966-1989)
  • Second Congolese Civil War (1998-2003)

Angola’s Role in Regional Security

Angola plays a vital role in regional security. It is a member of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Angola is also a leading contributor to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations in Central Africa.

8. The Sudanese Army

The Sudanese army was established in 1956 after Sudan gained independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt. The Sudanese army has played a major role in several conflicts, including the First Sudanese Civil War (1955-1972) and the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005). The Sudanese army has also participated in several other conflicts, including the War in Darfur (2003-present) and the Yemeni Civil War (2014-present).

Size and Structure of the Sudanese Army

The Sudanese army is the eighth-largest army in Africa, with over 130,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and warships.

Equipment and capabilities of the Sudanese army

Some of the most notable items of Sudanese military equipment include:

  • Su-25 fighter jets
  • T-72 tanks
  • Mi-24 attack helicopters
  • S-125 Neva surface-to-air missile system
  • Lupo-class frigates

Combat Experience of the Sudanese Army

The Sudanese army has extensive combat experience, having participated in several conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the Sudanese army has participated include:

  • First Sudanese Civil War (1955-1972)
  • Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005)
  • War in Darfur (2003-present)
  • Yemeni Civil War (2014-present)

Sudan’s Role in Regional Security

Sudan plays a vital role in regional security. It is a member of the African Union and the Arab League. Sudan is also a leading contributor to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations in East Africa.

9. The Zimbabwean Army

The Zimbabwean army was established in 1980 after Zimbabwe gained independence from the United Kingdom. The Zimbabwean army played a major role in the Rhodesian Bush War (1964-1979). The Zimbabwean army has also participated in many other conflicts, including the Second Congolese Civil War (1998-2003) and the Mozambican Civil War (1977-1992).

Size and Structure of the Zimbabwean Army

The Zimbabwean army is the ninth-largest in Africa, with over 30,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and warships. The Zimbabwean army is divided into several different branches, including the land forces, the air force, and the navy.

Equipment and Capabilities of the Zimbabwean Army

Some of the most notable items of Zimbabwean military equipment include:

  • J-7 fighter jets
  • T-72 tanks
  • Mi-24 attack helicopters
  • SA-8 Gecko surface-to-air missile system
  • Ming-class frigates

Combat Experience of the Zimbabwean Army

The Zimbabwean army has extensive combat experience, having participated in several conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the Zimbabwean army has participated include:

  • Rhodesian Bush War (1964-1979)
  • Second Congolese Civil War (1998-2003)
  • Mozambican Civil War (1977-1992)

Zimbabwe’s Role in Regional Security

Zimbabwe plays a vital role in regional security. It is a member of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Zimbabwe is also a leading contributor to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations in Southern Africa.

10. The Kenyan Army

The Kenyan army was established in 1963 after Kenya gained independence from the United Kingdom. The Kenyan army has played a major role in several conflicts, including the Shifta War (1963-1967) and the Somali War (1977-1978). The Kenyan army has also participated in other conflicts, including the Second Congolese Civil War (1998-2003) and the War on Terror (2001-present).

Size and Structure of the Kenyan Army

The Kenyan army is the tenth-largest in Africa, with over 80,000 active personnel. It is also one of the most well-equipped armies in Africa, with a wide range of weapons and equipment, including fighter jets, tanks, and warships. The Kenyan army is divided into several different branches, including the land forces, the air force, and the navy.

Equipment and Capabilities of the Kenyan Army

Some of the most notable items of Kenyan military equipment include:

  • F-5E Tiger II fighter jets
  • T-72 tanks
  • Mi-17 helicopters
  • MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missile system
  • Ngei-class frigates

The Kenyan army has extensive combat experience, having participated in several conflicts. Some of the most notable conflicts in which the Kenyan army has participated include:

  • Shifta War (1963-1967)
  • Somali War (1977-1978)
  • Second Congolese Civil War (1998-2003)
  • War on Terror (2001-present)

The Kenyan army has also participated in several peacekeeping operations, including the United Nations Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Kenya’s Role in Regional Security

Kenya plays a vital role in regional security. It is a member of the African Union and the East African Community (EAC). Kenya is also a leading contributor to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations in East Africa.

Comparison of the Strongest Armies in Africa

The following table compares the top 10 best armies in Africa in terms of size, equipment, training, and combat experience:

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ArmySizeEquipmentTrainingCombat Experience
Egypt450,000Very goodVery goodExtensive
Algeria200,000GoodGoodExtensive
South Africa90,000Very goodVery goodModerate
Nigeria120,000GoodGoodModerate
Ethiopia175,000GoodGoodExtensive
Morocco250,000GoodGoodModerate
Angola100,000GoodGoodModerate
Sudan130,000GoodGoodExtensive
Zimbabwe30,000GoodGoodExtensive
Kenya80,000GoodGoodModerate

Notable African Military Triumphs

African military history is marked by remarkable achievements that have left an enduring imprint on the continent’s martial legacy. From ancient eras to more contemporary conflicts, African armies have consistently exhibited valor, ingenuity, and strategic brilliance.

Iconic Battle of Adwa (1896)

One of the most iconic moments in this history is the Battle of Adwa in 1896. During this historic clash, Ethiopian forces, under the command of Emperor Menelik II, repelled an Italian invasion. It is a rare instance of an African force thwarting a European colonial power, showcasing Africa’s resilience.

Angola’s Defining Battle (1980s)

In a more recent context, the 1980s witnessed another significant achievement, particularly in Angola. Amid a protracted struggle against foreign-backed rebel groups, the Angolan Armed Forces, bolstered by Cuban troops, displayed mettle, resilience, and tactical prowess in the pivotal Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. They successfully defended the town against the South African army, ultimately compelling the withdrawal of apartheid-era South African forces from Angola.

These remarkable feats serve as enduring reminders of Africa’s rich military history and the exceptional capabilities of its armies. Despite confronting formidable challenges, African nations have consistently demonstrated their capacity to safeguard sovereignty, protect their populace, and contribute to global peace and security.

African Armies: Diversity, Training, and Modernization

Diverse Sizes and Compositions

African armies encompass diverse sizes and compositions, reflecting the continent’s multifaceted nature. With over 50 nations, Africa’s military landscape encompasses large and small forces. For instance, countries like Nigeria and Ethiopia maintain substantial armies due to their large populations and strategic significance. In contrast, smaller nations like Djibouti or Seychelles maintain relatively compact, specialized forces tailored to specific security requirements.

Varied Compositions and Specializations

The composition of African armies is equally diverse. Many nations strike a balance between regular and reserve forces tailored to unique national defense strategies. These forces often include specialized units, such as airborne and maritime forces, equipped to address various security challenges effectively. Notably, several African nations have embraced gender equality by integrating female soldiers into their ranks, acknowledging their invaluable contributions to military service.

Training and Readiness

The cornerstone of African armies’ effectiveness lies in their rigorous training and readiness programs. These programs cater to regular and reserve forces, encompassing a spectrum of essential military skills. Training regimes cover tactical operations, marksmanship, physical fitness, and leadership development.

Recruitment and Rigorous Training

Aspiring soldiers must meet specific requirements from country to country, including educational qualifications, physical fitness standards, and medical assessments. The admission process often involves written tests, interviews, and background checks. Once accepted, recruits undergo intensive training that instills discipline, builds physical stamina, and hones combat capabilities. This training equips soldiers with vital skills and fosters a sense of pride, camaraderie, and duty toward their respective nations.

Military Academies and Leadership

Several African countries boast a rich history of military academies, some dating back to the colonial era. These academies have produced esteemed military leaders who have significantly shaped their nation’s armed forces. For example, the Nigerian Defense Academy, founded in 1964, has trained numerous high-ranking officers who have gone on to serve in prominent positions within the Nigerian Army and other branches, contributing to the professionalization of African armies.

Modernization Efforts

Modernization has emerged as a focal point in African armies’ priorities to enhance their military capabilities. These efforts encompass equipment upgrades, technological advancements, and comprehensive training programs.

Investment in Modern Hardware

Many African nations invest in modern military hardware to keep pace with evolving security landscapes. This includes acquiring cutting-edge equipment like the Rooivalk attack helicopter in South Africa, featuring advanced avionics and weaponry that bolsters air combat capabilities.

Technological Advancements

Beyond hardware, African armies focus on technological advancements, implementing state-of-the-art communication systems. These systems enhance coordination, information sharing, and situational awareness and expedite decision-making, ultimately improving effectiveness.

Capacity Building and International Collaboration

Capacity building and training are also integral to modernization efforts. African armies collaborate with international partners to establish specialized training programs in counterterrorism, peacekeeping, and disaster response areas. By investing in robust training frameworks, African armies enhance their readiness to tackle various security challenges.

Challenges and Obstacles

African armies face numerous challenges and obstacles that impact their effectiveness and readiness. One major challenge is the limited defense budget and spending. Many African countries struggle to allocate sufficient resources to their military forces, resulting in inadequate equipment, training, and personnel funding. This hampers their ability to modernize their armies and leaves them vulnerable to evolving security threats.

Summary of the Best Armies in Africa

The top 10 best armies in Africa are:

  1. Egypt
  2. Algeria
  3. South Africa
  4. Nigeria
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Morocco
  7. Angola
  8. Sudan
  9. Zimbabwe
  10. Kenya

These armies are well-equipped and highly trained, vital to regional security. They have all participated in peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations and are investing in new equipment and training to improve their capabilities in the future.

The future outlook for the top best armies in Africa

The best armies in Africa are all facing several challenges in the future. These challenges include:

  • The increasing threat of terrorism and extremism.
  • The growing instability in the Sahel region.
  • The competition for resources between African countries.
  • The need to modernize their equipment and training.

The top 10 best armies in Africa are well-equipped and highly trained, playing a vital role in regional security. They have all participated in peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations and are investing in new equipment and training to improve their capabilities in the future.

The African continent faces some challenges, including terrorism, extremism, and instability. However, Africa’s top 10 best armies are well-positioned to address these challenges. They are all committed to peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations and are all working to modernize their equipment and training.

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