It’s a volatile world that we live in. There are hot spots and flashpoints all over the globe where violence can break out in an instant. From the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas, to the frequent face-offs between Asian powers in Kashmir; there’s always somewhere on this planet where the wrong words spoken could be sufficient to spark a clash of arms. Because of this state of affairs, many countries wield large active militaries to deal with the expected or predictable situations. But what about unexpected powder-keg moments that could potentially scale upwards into total war?
In moments of invasion, all-out defense or global conflict, countries have to rely on their reserve militaries. For instance, the USA (which does not feature in this top 10) can count on several different reserve components including the Army Reserve, National Guard and Navy Reserve. Military reservists can continue their civilian lives whilst fulfilling an agreed amount of time in training and operations. The simple idea is, in a time of extreme crisis, these trained personnel can be called upon and mobilized to support active personnel (regulars).
Apart from one special exception, this list does not incorporate paramilitaries (armed organizations that are generally not part of the nation’s official military) or active military. So, although Israel (with 445,000 reservists), Pakistan (with 515,000) and the USA (with 850,800 reserve troops) can call up massive support, the countries in the top 10 have reservist forces in their millions. Some countries rely on volunteers to fill their ranks, whereas others resort to conscription and civic duty. Figures on this list can obviously change with the current political climate, for example, Russia and Ukraine will be mobilizing their huge reserve forces due to the former’s recent incursion into the Crimea. As for the latter, they have 1 million reservists to help out, but are pushed out of 10th place by the first entry on this list. The countries are ranked by numbers of active reserve military personnel.
10. Taiwan (Republic of China): 1.675 million
Although officially known as the Republic of China, this island province is better known to the world as Taiwan. A reserve force of over 1.6 million is a large amount for a nation that has a total population of just over 23 million. There are some other estimates for this Asian state, with numbers going as high as 3.87 million, which would have put Taiwan in third position. However, due to the total population of 23 million, the lower figure is the more likely amount.