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Top 10 Armies of All Time

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Kelly MacDonald. If you’re going to make history, you might have to put up a fight: the greatest armies in history have a few things in common – aside from being successful in their battles. But most importantly, they’ve left their marks on the history books. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 armies of all time. For this list, we looked for armies whose charismatic leaders, technological innovations, and military conquests brought about significant watershed moments over the course of human history. Special thanks to our users Stennershannon@gmail and Disco Stu for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Kelly MacDonald.

Top 10 Armies of All Time

If you’re going to make history, you might have to put up a fight. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten armies of all times.

For this list, we looked for armies whose charismatic leaders, technological innovations, and military conquests brought about significant watershed moments over the course of human history. We’re using fictionalized movie version to illustrate most of these armies, for obvious reasons.

#10: The Huns under Attila

A mysterious tribe from the near East, the Huns contributed to the barbarian onslaught, leading to the collapse of Roman civilization. Skilled swordsmen, and with a formidable force of mounted archers, the Huns went from 4th century mercenaries to 5th century empire builders, decimating the Eastern Roman Empire, irreparably damaging the West, and establishing their own imperial rule from the Baltic to the Black sea.

#9: The Spartans

A civilization of professional soldiers, Sparta had the most feared and revered army of the classical age. Their military prowess was best illustrated at the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans defended a key military access point against thousands of Persian invaders. Though they died and lost the battle, their efforts helped win the war, expelling the Persians from Greece and solidifying the Spartan soldiers’ place in history.

#8: The Red Army

Having brought down one of the oldest dynasties in all of Europe, the Soviet Red Army was a highly disciplined force of over 5 million by 1920. In years to come, it continued to grow, defeating Hitler on the Eastern Front in the Second World War, and establishing itself as the only real challenge to American military dominance, during the last half of the twentieth century.

#7: The British Red Coats

Though most likely associated with the British troops who fought in the American War of Independence, the Red Coats were actually all non-commissioned soldiers who served between 1760 and 1860. The Red Coats fought at the Battle of Waterloo, served under General Wolfe in the Battle of Quebec, and were part of the allied forces during the Crimean War. In short, they were an essential component during Britain’s Imperialist era.

#6: The Mongolian Army

Known for their deft skills on horseback, this army swept through Asia in the 1200s, bringing down both the Chin and Sung Empires, unifying China for the first time in centuries. Under the visionary leadership of Genghis Khan, his son, Ogedei, and grandson, Kublai Khan, the Mongolian army established its military dominance all the way to the borders of Europe.

#5: The Roman Army of Julius Caesar

Rome’s military built a thousand year empire, but even within this history Julius Caesar’s army stands out. Caesar and his men battled against the Gauls, expanding Roman territory to northern Europe. When the senate became weary of Caesar’s power and influence, a civil war erupted. Caesar’s army crossed the Rubicon and defeated his adversaries. In so doing, this army brought down Rome’s Republic and ushered in the era of the Roman Empire.

#4: The German Wehrmacht 1935-1945

Bouncing back from the humiliation of WWI, the German Wehrmacht army was an innovative force whose expansionist mandate brought about a second worldwide conflict. Utilizing lightning warfare, or Blitzkrieg, the German armed forces launched rapid assaults, bewildering their opponents. In the first two years of the WWII, Germany looked set to win. It was not until U.S. involvement and Hitler’s miscalculations on the Eastern Front, that this army experienced decisive losses and ultimate defeat.

#3: The Greco-Macedonians

Under two great Generals of history – Philip II and his son Alexander (the Great) – the Macedonian army dominated much of the civilized world in the 5th century BC. Technological innovation to the classical Greek phalanx, the sheer fierceness of its soldiers, and the genius of its leaders, allowed this army to take over Greece, Egypt and entire the Persian Empire … all within thirty-six years.

#2: Napoleon’s Grande Armée

Emboldened by the spirit of the revolution and led by a military visionary, this army established France’s hegemonic power over Europe. Comprised of nearly 30,000 men, Napoleon’s troops were the most formidable of the era. Tactical flexibility and the ability to divide enemy forces before their ultimate defeat was the key to their success. It would take a coalition of all European powers to eventually bring Napoleon down.

#1: American Military in the 20th Century

With a standing army of over 1.4 million, the American military is the most formidable force of the modern age. U.S. involvement in WWI and WWII changed the course of each conflict and established America as the most powerful army in the world. It continued to flex its muscle during the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghani and Second Iraqi wars and continues to be a major military watchdog on the international stage.

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