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#1 Posted by InternetCrab (1504 posts) -

Greetings bombers!

Today I scrambled through saved assignments from my school time and found an assignment I did in 7th grade about Alexander the Great (Basileus of Macedon). He conquered all of Persia and was the ruler of Macedon, an kingdom mostly based in Greece around 800-100 BC.

However, it got me thinking, what is/were the most powerful army of all time? Alexander the Great's army is the best to me, followed by probably the Mongol Empire. Just look at the losses in the Battle of Gaugamela.

#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Does mine count? Does my Kingdom even count as an empire? Can you create an empire through diplomacy?

#3 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

Russian.

#4 Posted by scalpel (314 posts) -

USA

#5 Edited by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

Why, the Galactic Empire, of course.

@Video_Game_King said:

Does mine count? Does my Kingdom even count as an empire? Can you create an empire through diplomacy?

Have you invaded anybody yet? It doesn't count unless you invade somewhere, I heard.

#6 Posted by Marcsman (3199 posts) -

The Targaryens of course. They had dragons.

#7 Posted by Seedofpower (3930 posts) -

After putting 59 hours into Wargame. I can say that the Warsaw PACT (soviets) had the better army.

#8 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@Ravenlight:

Well, I did end up invading a neighboring Kingdom, once, but that was LONG ago.

#9 Posted by Deadmanforking (577 posts) -

DA ORKZ! WAAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!

#10 Posted by Mamba219 (155 posts) -

@InternetCrab said:

Greetings bombers!

Today I scrambled through saved assignments from my school time and found an assignment I did in 7th grade about Alexander the Great (Basileus of Macedon). He conquered all of Persia and was the ruler of Macedon, an kingdom mostly based in Greece around 800-100 BC.

However, it got me thinking, what is/were the most powerful army of all time? Alexander the Great's army is the best to me, followed by probably the Mongol Empire. Just look at the losses in the Battle of Gaugamela.

This question is harder to answer than you think. Technology makes an extraordinary difference - were Alexander's armies to go against a 19th century European army, they'd be completely wiped out. I assume you mean in terms of overall achievement in their day and age.

I personally think Alexander is extremely overrated. His father, Philip II, was undeniably a better diplomat and politician and arguably a greater general. Darius III, Alexander's primary adversary, had absolutely no tactical sense and had never dealt with large scale warfare before, whereas Philip's adversaries were experienced in city-state warfare.

Now the Mongols, that's a different story. Subutai, Genghis Khan's primary general, was a complete genius and his cavalry raids are the stuff of legend. The unbelievable *speed* at which they subjugated basically all of Asia makes me think of them as the greatest conquering force of all time.

For those interested, there are a number of fabulous generals across history to take a look at, many of whom go unappreciated. This list includes well-known people like Genghis Khan, Zhuge Liang, Hannibal Barca, Alexander, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon to lesser known people like Epaminondas, Subutai, Tamerlane, Babur, Trajan, Fabius Maximus...the list goes on.

#11 Posted by Korolev (1707 posts) -

Technically the US - in conventional warfare, I don't think any nation could currently beat it. Of course, there's no way to tell precisely, but if I were a betting man, I'd wager that the modern US would win against any army fielded today or in the past. The Russians admit that their tech is behind the Americans - that's why they are desperately pumping their oil money into R&D to upgrade their army. The Chinese freely admit, in their own military journals (they do have them) that they can't beat the US offensively (yet), but are building up their army to defend themselves against the US, and in 30 years, they might have an army on par with that of the Americans.

But right now, no nation could, in a conventional fight, beat the US without resorting to Nuclear Weapons. That doesn't mean that the US is all-powerful. I have no doubt that they couldn't successfully conquer Russia or China - but then again, Russia and China have no hope in hell of even ATTEMPTING an invasion of America. The US could invade Russia or China - I don't think it'd work out well for them, but they could try. Russia and China can't even TRY to invade the US, because their navies are severely underfunded.

#12 Posted by Donkeycow (556 posts) -

Most powerful army of all time would be the USA unless you mean when compared to their contemporaries in which case it would be the Roman Legions from the period of 75 BC to 100 AD.

#13 Posted by Philantrophy (354 posts) -

Mongols would be my pick.

#14 Posted by InternetCrab (1504 posts) -

@Mamba219 said:

@InternetCrab said:

Greetings bombers!

Today I scrambled through saved assignments from my school time and found an assignment I did in 7th grade about Alexander the Great (Basileus of Macedon). He conquered all of Persia and was the ruler of Macedon, an kingdom mostly based in Greece around 800-100 BC.

However, it got me thinking, what is/were the most powerful army of all time? Alexander the Great's army is the best to me, followed by probably the Mongol Empire. Just look at the losses in the Battle of Gaugamela.

This question is harder to answer than you think. Technology makes an extraordinary difference - were Alexander's armies to go against a 19th century European army, they'd be completely wiped out. I assume you mean in terms of overall achievement in their day and age.

I personally think Alexander is extremely overrated. His father, Philip II, was undeniably a better diplomat and politician and arguably a greater general. Darius III, Alexander's primary adversary, had absolutely no tactical sense and had never dealt with large scale warfare before, whereas Philip's adversaries were experienced in city-state warfare.

Now the Mongols, that's a different story. Subutai, Genghis Khan's primary general, was a complete genius and his cavalry raids are the stuff of legend. The unbelievable *speed* at which they subjugated basically all of Asia makes me think of them as the greatest conquering force of all time.

For those interested, there are a number of fabulous generals across history to take a look at, many of whom go unappreciated. This list includes well-known people like Genghis Khan, Zhuge Liang, Hannibal Barca, Alexander, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon to lesser known people like Epaminondas, Subutai, Tamerlane, Babur, Trajan, Fabius Maximus...the list goes on.

Now I have some stuff to research in my freetime, thanks ;)

#15 Posted by AlexW00d (6275 posts) -

@Korolev said:

Technically the US - in conventional warfare, I don't think any nation could currently beat it. Of course, there's no way to tell precisely, but if I were a betting man, I'd wager that the modern US would win against any army fielded today or in the past. The Russians admit that their tech is behind the Americans - that's why they are desperately pumping their oil money into R&D to upgrade their army. The Chinese freely admit, in their own military journals (they do have them) that they can't beat the US offensively (yet), but are building up their army to defend themselves against the US, and in 30 years, they might have an army on par with that of the Americans.

But right now, no nation could, in a conventional fight, beat the US without resorting to Nuclear Weapons. That doesn't mean that the US is all-powerful. I have no doubt that they couldn't successfully conquer Russia or China - but then again, Russia and China have no hope in hell of even ATTEMPTING an invasion of America. The US could invade Russia or China - I don't think it'd work out well for them, but they could try. Russia and China can't even TRY to invade the US, because their navies are severely underfunded.

I like your Patriotism but this is about Empires, the US is not an empire, it is a republic.

#16 Posted by OmegaChosen (645 posts) -

I'd go Mongols with what they were able to achieve.

#17 Posted by Dezztroy (797 posts) -

Depends on what timeframe you want, and wether you will count nations as empires. Cold War Soviet would probably beat the US back then (without nuclear weapons, that is), but today I wouldn't be so sure.

#18 Edited by mnzy (2914 posts) -

I would also say the army of ancient Rome. Their whole giant empire was based around their military strength. 
 
From wiki: 
"At its territorial height, the Roman Empire  may have contained between 45 million and 120 million people.  Historian Edward Gibbon  estimated that the size of the Roman army "most probably formed a standing force of 3,750,000" men at the Empire's territorial peak in the time of the Roman Emperor Hadrian
  
That's biger than any army today, even if the population wasn't that much compared to today.

#19 Posted by TheKramer89 (423 posts) -

Greatest military leader would be a better topic. DUBYA!!!

#20 Posted by Mamba219 (155 posts) -

@InternetCrab said:

@Mamba219 said:

@InternetCrab said:

Greetings bombers!

Today I scrambled through saved assignments from my school time and found an assignment I did in 7th grade about Alexander the Great (Basileus of Macedon). He conquered all of Persia and was the ruler of Macedon, an kingdom mostly based in Greece around 800-100 BC.

However, it got me thinking, what is/were the most powerful army of all time? Alexander the Great's army is the best to me, followed by probably the Mongol Empire. Just look at the losses in the Battle of Gaugamela.

This question is harder to answer than you think. Technology makes an extraordinary difference - were Alexander's armies to go against a 19th century European army, they'd be completely wiped out. I assume you mean in terms of overall achievement in their day and age.

I personally think Alexander is extremely overrated. His father, Philip II, was undeniably a better diplomat and politician and arguably a greater general. Darius III, Alexander's primary adversary, had absolutely no tactical sense and had never dealt with large scale warfare before, whereas Philip's adversaries were experienced in city-state warfare.

Now the Mongols, that's a different story. Subutai, Genghis Khan's primary general, was a complete genius and his cavalry raids are the stuff of legend. The unbelievable *speed* at which they subjugated basically all of Asia makes me think of them as the greatest conquering force of all time.

For those interested, there are a number of fabulous generals across history to take a look at, many of whom go unappreciated. This list includes well-known people like Genghis Khan, Zhuge Liang, Hannibal Barca, Alexander, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon to lesser known people like Epaminondas, Subutai, Tamerlane, Babur, Trajan, Fabius Maximus...the list goes on.

Now I have some stuff to research in my freetime, thanks ;)

Researching and debating this stuff is pretty much my favorite thing in the world, so if you feel like discussing more, feel free to send me a PM.

#21 Posted by freakin9 (1121 posts) -

Romans, like, before they got completely wiped out I mean ;)

Speaking of the US, Japan not invading the US after their successful attack on Pearl Harbor was a pretty bone headed move on their part. They could've gotten pretty far before any real push back occurred.

#22 Edited by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

@Video_Game_King:

Did you romance any kingdoms, as well? That counts, too.

#23 Posted by kermoosh (911 posts) -

well there's only one empire, the sith empire from star wars

they had a good run before the rebels wrecked them

#24 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@Ravenlight:

That's how the conquering started.

#25 Posted by Fattony12000 (7424 posts) -

The British Empire was pretty sick.

You'll find a lot of military prowess and skill displayed from the late 1500s until around 1945.

By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world's population at the time, and covered more than 33,700,000 km2 (13,012,000 sq mi), almost a quarter of the Earth's total land area.

#26 Posted by fox01313 (5073 posts) -

Hard to tell with trying to compare the choices throughout history. Best bet would be to try to make up a list on Deadliest Warrior tv show or just go play a bunch of Civ5.

#27 Posted by owen99 (44 posts) -

The british empire bigest srength was never its army which was comparable to others of the time, it was its navy that allowed it to build such a large empire. The mongol army was very formidable. Also the french under napoleon were pretty powerful

#28 Posted by Brodehouse (9952 posts) -

The Valyrian Freehold, before the Doom came.

#29 Posted by Jimbo (9815 posts) -

If you mean weighed against their contemporaries, there was a small window right after WW2 where the US ('morals off' as the Comic Vine kids say) could have stomped everybody if they'd been so inclined.  That's no longer the case and was probably never the case for anybody else at any point in history.

#30 Edited by scalpel (314 posts) -

@AlexW00d said:

@Korolev said:

Technically the US - in conventional warfare, I don't think any nation could currently beat it. Of course, there's no way to tell precisely, but if I were a betting man, I'd wager that the modern US would win against any army fielded today or in the past. The Russians admit that their tech is behind the Americans - that's why they are desperately pumping their oil money into R&D to upgrade their army. The Chinese freely admit, in their own military journals (they do have them) that they can't beat the US offensively (yet), but are building up their army to defend themselves against the US, and in 30 years, they might have an army on par with that of the Americans.

But right now, no nation could, in a conventional fight, beat the US without resorting to Nuclear Weapons. That doesn't mean that the US is all-powerful. I have no doubt that they couldn't successfully conquer Russia or China - but then again, Russia and China have no hope in hell of even ATTEMPTING an invasion of America. The US could invade Russia or China - I don't think it'd work out well for them, but they could try. Russia and China can't even TRY to invade the US, because their navies are severely underfunded.

I like your Patriotism but this is about Empires, the US is not an empire, it is a republic.

Why do you equate his analysis to patriotism?

Also, OP first asked:

which empire has the best army of all time?

...and then asked:

what is/were the most powerful army of all time?

Ignoring the fact that there is a difference in "best" and "most powerful", OP did not in his second question specify whether or not the question was exclusive to empires. As such, Korelev's answer is a perfectly viable one.

#31 Posted by wwfundertaker (1403 posts) -

@Fattony12000 said:

The British Empire was pretty sick.

You'll find a lot of military prowess and skill displayed from the late 1500s until around 1945.

By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world's population at the time, and covered more than 33,700,000 km2 (13,012,000 sq mi), almost a quarter of the Earth's total land area.

I totally agree.

#32 Posted by celegorm_menegroth (63 posts) -

@Mamba219: @Mamba219 said:

This question is harder to answer than you think. Technology makes an extraordinary difference - were Alexander's armies to go against a 19th century European army, they'd be completely wiped out. I assume you mean in terms of overall achievement in their day and age.

If, for sake of argument, Alexander's armies were to engage in battle with a European army of the Napoleonic era they wouldn't fare as badly as you'd think.

Statistically, armies which relied upon muskets as their primary weapon had an incredibly low percentage of inflicting casualties during the course of battle due to the highly unreliable nature of the weapon. Even two armies drawn up in formation at "point blank range" would inflict casualties by scoring hits at a rate of 10%, or less. Some armies fared even worse, such as both sides of the American Civil War which would inflict casualties at a rate of 6-7% of shots fired.

Artillery was a far more effective killer during this period. Poor medical technology ranked second as a "battlefield killer" during this era of warfare.

There's been some very interesting research on this topic.

Military doctrine of this era was to draw your army up in formation in front of another and then fire volleys until the opponent withdrew due to the enemy formation's morale breaking ... not because they had sustained devastating losses. Conversely, Alexander's forces would immediately engage the enemy in melee combat where they would have a significant advantage over a Napoleonic army in many ways. And while you might think "the Napoleonic army would be firing at Alexander's troops during their advance," this is actually not necessarily the case. Many generals of the period knew it was a waste of time to let their infantry fire volleys until the enemy formation was much closer. There are battlefield accounts of two armies less than fifty yards apart and having not fired a shot at each other yet while they patiently wait for both sides to get in formation. This is also due to the nature of how a formation advanced, the French army would advance in columns and then move horizontally across the face of the enemy formation so as to reduce their exposure to enemy fire until they were within a much more effective range. Incidentally, a very similar strategy of advance was used by Nelson for exactly the same reason.

Napoleonic armies would suffer huge casualties in any engagement, but would ultimately prevail due to the nature of musket armies: they require less training time than prior methods of army formation. Alexander could not endure sustained casualties, nor could any army until the invention of firearms.

For a real example on this hypothetical look into the Zulu war against the British. The British were able to win by attrition, not by military superiority given to them by technology. Believing otherwise is to believe in the hubris of a western-centric view of military history.

#33 Edited by FourWude (2261 posts) -

Who gives a shit, they're all dead. And that's all that matters. Bigger they come, the harder they fall.

#34 Posted by crusader8463 (14422 posts) -
#35 Posted by aspaceinvader (257 posts) -

In ancient times it would have to have been the Romans they had a long lasting empire and were at the time the most advanced in certain terms of military tactics and weaponry, more modern terms it would have to have been The British empire which covered the entire world from east to west at one point. This would include the USA at one point in the past.

#36 Posted by Silvergun (297 posts) -

I'd have to give it to the Roman or the Brits at their height.

One thing about the Romans that really struck me was something I heard on Dan Carlin's 'Hardcore History' podcast. I can't remember his source, but he said something to the effect that you could take the legions at their height, transport them 1000 years into (their) future, and they'd STILL wipe the floor with any army on earth. For comparison, that'd be like taking, say, William the Conqueror's army of 1066 and having it stomp today's US military (or if you want to be really accurate, 2066's US military!).

On the Brit side, I read that around the time of the Revolutionary war, the main British battleships (Ship of the Line?) cost about as much to build as a supercarrier today. The Brits had FLEETS of them.

Crazy stuff.

#37 Posted by celegorm_menegroth (63 posts) -

@mnzy: Gibbon uses an extremely flawed and outdated methodology for estimating Roman army strength. He makes assumptions about troop displacement that have since been seriously challenged by later historians, namely Luttwak. Quite simply, Gibbon is wrong.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Grand-Strategy-Roman-Empire/dp/0801821584/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338307640&sr=8-1

It would have been an impossibility for the Roman empire to sustain an army of that number for logistical reasons alone, setting aside the assumptions that an army of that size would not have suffered from the clear limitations that the Roman legions were operating under for centuries, point of fact that they lacked the available manpower to make serious advancements against their enemies. If an army of that size existed than the loss of 20-40,000 soldiers in the Teutoburg Forest would not have marked the end of the last great advance by Rome. However, their loss was considered "irreplaceable" and a setback that the Roman emperors of the Caesarian line never recovered from.

#38 Posted by Veektarius (4843 posts) -

@Silvergun: Yes, but that's because the Europe 800 of the intervening 1000 years in decline. Tech had begun to surpass Roman in some ways by the 12th century, I expect, but no political entity had the resources needed to field a comparable army.

In terms of the amount of time spent training the average soldier and the amount of training given to standard soldiers, modern armies should be the greatest fighting force - even if you trained them in equivalent weapons. However, my earlier remark notwithstanding, I have always been impressed by the complexity of standard Roman military tactics. They just got stretched too far for even their own impressive infrastructure to support.

#39 Posted by SexyToad (2760 posts) -

My spore empire.

#40 Posted by celegorm_menegroth (63 posts) -

To answer the original question, the greatest army of all time is the Byzantine army.

They combined the power of the Roman legions with the cavalry of the Mongol hordes ( including their bow ) and the long spear of the Greeks. They had the most powerful navy of the era, and used Greek Fire to burn their enemies on the water. They employed Norse warriors as mercenaries and had the greatest engineers building a walled city that wasn't even seriously threatened until it fell due to incompetence. Oh, and they fought seasonal warfare on two fronts, plus expeditions throughout the region, for a thousand years.

Rome could dream, but the Eastern Roman "Greek" Empire of Byzantium lived on long past the "fall" of Rome.

#41 Posted by MachoFantastico (4702 posts) -

Being British I think I'd probably be shot for not saying 'The British Empire' :D  
 
Isn't that like mutiny or something!

#42 Posted by Deranged (1837 posts) -

You do understand Genghis Khan's empire dwarfed Alexander's right?

#43 Posted by mandude (2669 posts) -

Whatever the British were doing to conquer a quarter of the planet has to put them pretty far up there.

#44 Posted by Nottle (1914 posts) -

Ok, So isn't an empire ruled by a single supreme authority in charge of numerous other kingdoms? The UK was this, Japan was this, Rome, Greece, and Egypt were this. The US is definitely not this

#45 Edited by Cheesebob (1236 posts) -

British Empire because we picked our battles very carefully. Always making sure the natives had no guns and we had all the guns

#46 Posted by Winternet (8019 posts) -

The Mongolian Army. But, they had Genghis Khan, which is the most savage dude to walk the face of the Earth.

#47 Posted by Giantstalker (1656 posts) -

The United States of America may not technically be an empire, but I'm pretty sure their "army" (combined forces) is the most well-armed and collectively lethal the world has ever seen.

America has:

  • Nearly 10,000 tanks
  • Just over 26,000 APC/IFVs
  • Over 3000 artillery pieces
  • Nearly 1500 multiple-launch rocket systems
  • Over 260,000 trucks
  • Almost 1.5 million active-duty personnel

While Russia and China have more weapons, by volume, many of these are inoperable or hopelessly outdated. The vast majority of American equipment is current, in good repair, and ready to be used at a moment's notice. America's aircraft count - including Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines - is almost four times China's and nearly ten times Russia's.

I'd say that makes them the best... good thing they're on our side!

#48 Posted by X19 (2306 posts) -

British Empire, we kicked ass. WW1 took all our money and now we have no empire and are in a pretty sad state :(

#49 Posted by Vegetable_Side_Dish (1727 posts) -
@X19: We have Ross Kemp though.
#50 Posted by freakin9 (1121 posts) -

An empire's greatest strength is not overreaching itself. Many a nation has fallen simply by thinking world dominance was an option.