New features in The Military Balance 2015 include equipment analysis graphics, a wall chart detailing Russia’s armed forces and essays on hybrid warfare, US space systems and directed energy weapons.

The Military Balance 2015The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data.

Regional and select country analyses cover the major developments affecting defence policy and procurement, and defence economics. The opening graphics section displays notable defence statistics, while additional data sets detail selected arms orders and military exercises, as well as comparative defence expenditure and personnel numbers. The Military Balance is an indispensable handbook for anyone conducting serious analysis of security policy and military affairs. 

‘Amid continuing conflict and broadening insecurity, The Military Balance provides essential facts and analysis for decision-makers and for better informed public debate.’ Dr Robert M. Gates, former US Secretary of Defense and Director of Central Intelligence

‘Because military affairs are inevitably clouded in fog, the IISS Military Balance is an essential companion for those who seek to understand.’ Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, former UK Defence Secretary and Secretary-General of NATO

New Features in The Military Balance 2015:

  • New country analyses including China, Colombia, France, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates, as well as analysis of regional defence and security developments such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
  • New thematic analytical essays on hybrid warfare, directed energy weapons and US space systems.
  • A new Military Balance Wall Chart, with a focus on Russia’s armed forces.
  • New technical equipment-focused graphics, including on the development of Russia’s Flanker combat-aircraft variants, the US Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyer and Israel’s Merkava IV main battle tank.
  • Updated graphics feature on comparative defence statistics, with a focus on defence economics, defence industry and major land, sea and air capabilities.
  • Updated national capability summaries.
  • A new section detailing ‘observed equipment’ for selected non-state armed groups, including the Peshmerga in northern Iraq, separatist forces in eastern Ukraine and Boko Haram in Nigeria, among others.
  • A table of military training exercises, arranged by region.
  • New maps on France’s realigned military presence in Africa, the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as AMISOM’s Operation Indian Ocean in Somalia.


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  • Editor’s Introduction

    The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data. At the beginning of 2015, defence and security planners were reflecting on a preceding year that added extra crises to an already increasingly complex and fractured global security environment. European security faced its most significant challenge...
  • Chapter 1, Part I: Directed energy weapons: finally coming of age?

    Directed energy (DE) systems have been something of a chimera for defence planners. From their first appearances in science fiction, to the ambitious 1980s United States’ Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), they have been touted by advocates of the technology as a means of engaging military targets with, in the case of lasers, speed-of-light delivery and the possibility of near-unlimited magazines compared with kinetic-effect weapons, such as missiles or guns. The US...
  • Chapter 1, Part II: Military space systems: US ambitions to secure space

    Once the exclusive domain of the Cold War superpowers, national space capabilities are now maintained by a growing number of countries. Eleven states have an indigenous capacity to launch satellites, while 170 operate satellites or have a financial interest in a satellite constellation. Along with the established space-operating nations of the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Israel, nations such as China and India now possess significant...
  • Chapter 1, Part III: Hybrid warfare: challenge and response

    Russia’s actions in Ukraine in 2014 have given defence planners in the West, and beyond, much to consider. The sophisticated combinations of conventional and unconventional means of warfare deployed by Russia, seen by many analysts as a form of ‘hybrid warfare’, have demonstrated that policymakers need to take these activities into account when crafting new concepts and re-examining existing strategies. Concerns over hybrid warfare are manifest for states in the West...
  • Chapter 2: Comparative defence statistics

    Comparative defence statistics:  Top 15 Defence Budgets 2014 2014  Top 15 Defence and Security Budgets as a % of GDP Planned Global Defence Expenditure by Region 2014 Planned Defence Expenditure by Country 2014 Real Global Defence Spending Changes by Region 2012–14 Planned Global Defence Expenditure by Country 2014 at PPP Exchange Rates Composition of Real Defence Spending Increases 2013–14 Composition of Real Defence Spending Reductions 2013–14 Changes in the global...
  • Chapter 3: North America

    At the start of 2014, US defence planners were facing complex security and policy preoccupations, including managing the drawdown in Afghanistan, China’s continuing rise, the state of negotiations over the Iranian nuclear programme, the continuing campaign against terrorism, as well as dealing with the effects of defence-budget cuts. From early in the year, this defence agenda became more crowded and by October included the possible return of sequestration in FY2016;...
  • Chapter 4: Europe

    Risks and threats to European security were in 2014 thrown into sharp relief by events in the region’s eastern and southern periphery. To the southeast, the three-year-old civil war in Syria engulfed northern Iraq, with the Sunni jihadist organisation Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) proclaiming in the summer a caliphate spanning parts of both countries. Conditions in Libya, which experienced NATO intervention in 2011, deteriorated further, with the...
  • Chapter 5: Russia and Eurasia

    Modernisation of the Russian armed forces, begun in 2008 under Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and merely adjusted under his successor Sergei Shoigu, continued in 2014. The appointment in May of a new Ground Forces Commander-in-Chief, Colonel-General Oleg Salyukov, ended a period with no commander in office, but this was the only major personnel change during the year. It was also a year of relative organisational stability, although preparations began for...
  • Chapter 6: Asia

    Recent efforts throughout the Asia-Pacific to enhance military capabilities have focused on the maritime domain, reflecting growing disquiet over vulnerability to attack from the sea as well as concerns over natural resources, territorial claims and freedom of navigation. In some cases, these efforts have included bolstering sea-denial capacity, with the aim of complicating potential adversaries’ naval deployments and operations. For instance, an important objective of China’s growing maritime and air-warfare...
  • Chapter 7: Middle East

    As 2014 progressed, regional attention was focused not only on the ongoing Syrian civil war, but also on the rise of the jihadi-takfiri movement, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The severe threat posed to the region by ISIS triggered military engagement and political alignment by regional and international states that had not been seen for some time. The expansion of territory under its control – which effectively...
  • Chapter 8: Latin America

    Combating organised crime The use of Latin American armed forces to combat drug trafficking and other organised crime continued in 2014. New agencies combining police and military structures were created, while equipment acquisitions were often tailored to law-enforcement capabilities. Brazil and Mexico, which have the two largest economies in the region, carried out new internal military deployments amid continuing drug-related violence. Countries that have experienced increased drug trafficking in recent years...
  • Chapter 9: Sub-Saharan Africa

    The complexity of threats to stability and security in Africa was exemplified by the developing crisis over Ebola in West Africa in 2014. It tested the governance capacity of regional states, was called a threat to international peace and security by the United Nations and led to another large Africa-focused international military mobilisation. At the same time, insecurity and conflict still bedevilled progress towards more stable and sustainable development in...
  • Chapter 10: Country comparisons - commitments, force levels and economics

    The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data.
  • Explanatory Notes

    The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data.
  • Reference

    The Military Balance is an authoritative assessment of the military capabilities and defence economics of 171 countries. Detailed A–Z entries list each country’s military organisation, personnel numbers, equipment inventories, and relevant economic and demographic data.
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