7 Reasons Why A Country Needs An Army

Almost every country in the world has an army. Going back thousands of years the military has played a prominent role in pretty much every society. Why though? Why has every country in the world, excluding a few tiny exceptions, decided that an armed forces is a key part of their country? Why do countries actually need an army?

We’ve got the answer. Below we’ve broken down the seven most commonly cited reasons for why almost every country needs a military…

1. Self-Defense

The first reason why a country needs an army is for self-defence. Every country in the world is at risk of being attacked by its neighbors, or foreign powers. Having a military force deters other countries from attacking.

Although it may seem in the modern world that countries get invaded less, historically countries were often attacked by others. Nations keep an armed forces to ensure that other countries do not try to seize parts of their land or conquer them entirely.

Huge numbers of countries have land that neighbors claim should be theirs. A military force is needed to deter countries from trying to seize land they claim. Countries have armies as a strong deterrence against attack, because any invading force would need to engage in extensive fighting, with many lives lost, in order to defeat them.

Having a military for self-defense is perhaps the main reason countries have armies today. Some countries even call their army the ‘self-defense force’ in order to highlight that it is only to be used if attacked.

Many countries justify high military expenditure because they claim to be threatened by major world powers and they need a large and advanced military to deter being attacked.

2. Combat Internal Threats

A second reason why countries need an army is to combat internal threats. Many countries face threats from armed groups, separatist movements, organized criminal gangs or militias. An army is needed to combat these groups and restore peace to areas they may control.

A countries army comes under the control of its government. However, in many countries, there are also armed groups that fight against the government. A country needs a military force in order to protect the government from being overthrown and to restore government control over areas held by anti-government militias. It has been shown that using armed forces to defeat militia groups and bringing peace to conflict areas can be key to a country’s development.

Some countries have laws against their armies being used internally. However, these countries still see the importance of having a military force to combat internal threats. All will have a civil guard, national guard or military-style police units that will be used to combat criminals and armed groups operating in their countries.

Having an army is vital for a country because it also acts as a deterrence against the emergence of armed groups internally. People are less likely to revolt against a state that has a strong army behind it.

3. Pre-Emptive Attack

Another reason why countries need a military is to be able to take a pre-emptive strikes against an enemy if needed. Although almost every country claims their army is for self-defence, sometimes a countries best way to defend themselves is by attacking an enemy they know is threatening them.

There have been many instances throughout history where countries have used their armies to attack others as a pre-emptive strike before they are attacked themselves. They all claim this is in self-defense, although often this is disputed. However, having the ability to make a pre-emptive strike is key to a nations defense and a major reason why countries have military forces.

A country needs an army to be able to defend itself, but also to attack. Military tacticians say that sometimes attacking is the best form of defence and so a nation’s army needs to be able to strike at other countries, and non-state armed groups, that are threatening them.

Having other countries know that a state is able to attack them is key to their security. Although, in modern times, nations invade each other less than in the past, many keep the capabilities to do so in their armed forces as a key part of their defence.

4. International Influence

A major reason why countries need a military is to have international influence. Being a military power commands respect from other countries. It also makes a country a player on the world stage and gives them a degree of authority. In contrast, having no military or a weak army often means a lack of global influence.

Although there are countries with little or no armies that have significant global influence, the major world powers all have strong armies. International influence comes with being able to back-up your diplomacy with action and having a military allows a country to show its strength.

Another reason why countries need to have an army is to protect their allies. Nations form alliances for mutual protection, because of shared values and to build economic ties. Having an army is key to forming alliances. Alliances are also key to a country’s global influence and this is another reason why countries need a military.

All countries need to promote themselves abroad. Influencing global affairs is key for a country to be successful. Having a strong army is a vital part of being seen as a global power and this is a big reason why having a military is important.

5. National Identity

The army is a key part of many nations core identities. It is an institution that unites the country, is often key to its foundation and commands a high degree of respect. A country needs a military around which people can bond and find a common purpose.

Although in many modern countries the army takes a background role as politicians command the direction of the country, the military often has an implicit role in national identity. Conflicts and wars are key to a nations story and the army is often seen as the physical embodiment of this national lore.

Militaries are traditional institutions. They embody their histories and that of their countries. They have rituals and ceremonies that are unique to the country and often carry the legacy of a nation’s past.

Almost all countries have conflict in their recent history that were key to how the country is today. The military is a link to this past and often commands admiration and respect. In many countries, the military is a key unifying institution that transcends politics, religion and race.

6. Disaster Response

Another reasons why countries have an armed forces is to help with disaster respond and in times of crises. Armies have extensive capabilities that can prove vital in a crises. Military expertise, equipment, logistics and personnel are often deployed when disasters hit.

A countries army adds extra capacity to civil defence and disaster response units. Soldiers have the training, command structures and ability to operate in difficult environments. This makes them incredibly useful in disaster zones.

Many countries rely on their military in times of crises. From earthquakes to floods, from disease pandemics to extreme weather, the armed forces of a country often plays a key role in helping to increase a nations capacity to respond to disasters.

Often, countries include disaster response training for their armed forces. Militaries also often have specialist equipment that can help with disaster response. Many countries offer this expertise and assistance to other countries when they are hit by disasters. Help from the armed forces of a country can make up a key part of the humanitarian aid they send abroad when friendly countries are hit by crisis.

7. Social Mobility

A final reason why countries need an army is for social mobility. In many countries, the armed forces have historically played a role in allowing people to move up from lower societal classes and are a key institution for poorer people to move up in society.

The army is generally an institution almost anyone can join. Armies pride themselves in taking people and giving them the skills and expertise needed to rise up. Armies are meritocratic institutions – meaning the best people should rise to the top regardless of their background or social status. This means the military in many countries are places where people who may have had a harder start in life can excel.

Being senior in the military often comes with a degree of social prestige. Soldiers, and especially high-ranking army officers, are seen as highly valued in many societies. As people can join the armed forces from almost any background, this means the military provides an opportunity for people to make something of themselves and rise up the traditional hierarchies of a society.

Although most countries nowadays have all-volunteer armed forces and no longer have conscription, around the world the military is still seen as a key institution for social mobility and this is a big reason almost every country in the world has one.

Global Affairs Explained

Global Affairs Explained is an ongoing project aiming to provide concise guides to world events. Focusing on international relations, history, and geo-politics, Global Affairs Explained uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media.

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