Global Firepower is an analytical company that providing an annual rating of the world's armies. In 2020, Belarus ranked 53rd out of 138 countries. The three leaders are still the armed forces of the United States, Russia and China. In assessing the countries' military powers, analysts considered more than 50 criteria, including the number of weapons, the number of personnel and reserves, military financing, and many others. At the same time, nuclear weapons do not count.
Not quantity, but quality
The date of birth of the Belarusian army can be considered March 20, 1992. That day the Government adopted a resolution on creating the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus based on the Red Banner Belarusian Military District and the 2nd Independent Air Defense Army. Today, the number of our troops is almost 65,000, of which more than 46,000 are military personnel. These include ground forces, air forces and air defense forces, as well as special operations forces, weapons, rear, military training institutions, organizations and units that provide maintenance and security. The Belarusian Armed Forces have great armored force: as of January 2021, we have more than 1,200 T-72 tanks of various modifications. In June 2017, military units received T-72B3 models. Currently, they have a more powerful power unit and Belarus-made Sosna-U scopes. There are also more than 2000 combat vehicles, including more than 400 APCs and about 1,300 IFVs.
Our air forces is represented by models of Su-30SM and MiG-29 multi-functional fighters, Su-25 attack aircrafts, Yak-130 combat trainers, Il-76 and An-26 military transport aircrafts. It is noteworthy that we are armed with more attack aircrafts than all our NATO neighbors combined. Interesting fact: Belarusian pilots set 15 world height gain records on the MiG-29 fighter. The air defense systems are represented by anti-aircraft S-300, M2E Tor, Strela, Buk and Osa missile systems. By the way, the combat crews of S-300 and M2 Tor divisions are, as a rule, among the best in the "Military Cooperation" exercise held within united air defense system of the CIS states.
The special operations forces has more than 6,000 troops. Special operations forces units are constantly replenished with new equipment. They are armed with more than 50 modifications of armored vehicles. To this, you can add more than 100 units of armored personnel carriers designed for military actions, passing water obstacles, and anti-aircraft shooting. Plus modern firearms, night vision devices, and communications systems. Don't forget the transport and territorial troops. The number of the latter is almost twice as large as the Armed Forces themselves — 120,000 people, but this assumes wartime. Based on analytical data, foreign researchers assert the Belarusian army is a powerful military force in the Eastern Europe region. But, does it mean that¬full-scale hostilities are possible today in Europe?
Not by weapon alone
Warfare has a concept as "strategic deterrence". And effective deterrence is the crucial factor in preventing war. That is, the potential aggressor assesses the possible negative consequences for himself in case of attack — the possible force of a retaliatory attack, own losses, first of all human. If he realizes that the enemy is likely to cause him a significant damage, then of course the Rubicon will not be crossed.
For example, in January last year, the U.S. was about to undertake a military operation in Iran and amassed significant strike forces in the Middle East for this purpose. But once official Tehran had demonstrated its readiness and determination to strike back, the United States was forced to take it down a notch. As appeared, retaliatory strikes are not necessary to demonstrate the army strength. Various world ratings also contribute in understanding of a particular state's military power; in particular, the authoritative Global Firepower, which assesses the ability of each country to wage war using conventional (non-nuclear) means.
Another consideration is that state defense involves not only the Armed Forces themselves but other troops and military formations as well: the Interior Ministry troops, border service, state security, territorial defense forces. In case of external aggression, all these units, along with the army, will perform missions to defend the country. By the way, Belarus ranks 25th in the global list of paramilitary organizations.
Infantry – the queen of fields
Today, there are increasing opinions that modern wars do not require significant ground forces, that fighting occurs without direct contact of the opposing armies. But this allegation is true only when it comes to low-intensity armed conflicts. For example, the military clashes in Karabakh last autumn showed the leading role of precision weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles, whereas in Syria, Russian troops mainly use aircrafts and special operations forces. But in the event of a large-scale warfare, it is the ground forces that will bear the brunt of the fighting.
Unfortunately, the option of major war nowadays is not excluded. It is no accident that the world's leading military powers – the USA, Russia and China – allocate annually hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, produce, modernize, and purchase up-to-date armored vehicles. By the way, in the NATO military exercise held in the Eastern European region, it is the land forces that traditionally play the major role. And for the large-scale deployment of its mechanized troops, the U.S. is arranging a number of facilities in Poland to store weapons and military equipment. Last year, the American organ of military administration, the Forward Command of the 5th US Army Corps, also began operations in Poland.
The Belarusian Armed Forces are unique in their structure. The fighting component of our army is almost equally divided into three parts: ground forces, special operations forces, and air force with air defense. That is, we are ready to undertake any format of military actions. But at the same time, we prefer to prevent war and use the trained army for strategic deterrence.