theFirst and Second World Wars of the20th Century. The British Empire, which reached its apogee inthe1920s, was the largest empire in history; a quarter of the world's population were subjects of theBritishCrown and it controlled a quarter of the world's total land area. Since the end of the SecondWorld War, British forces have continued to be very active and bases remain spread out across the globe
The United Kingdom fields one of the most powerful, technologically advanced and comprehensivearmed forces in the World. Its globalpower projection capabilities are deemed second only to those of theUnited States Military. The UK has the 2nd to 4th highest military expenditure in the world(depending on source), despite only having the 28th highest number of troops. It is also the secondlargest spender on military science, engineering and technology. Despite Britain's wide rangingcapabilities, recent defence policy has a stated assumption that any large operation would be undertakenas part of a coalition. Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq (
) may all betaken as precedent - indeed the last large scale military action in which the British armed forces foughtalone was the Falklands War of 1982.TheR oyal Navy is the second largest navy in the world in terms of gross tonnage, with 90commissioned ships. TheNaval Service (which comprises the Royal Navy andR oyal Marines)had astrength of 35,470 in July 2006 and is charged with custody of the United Kingdom's independentstrategicnuclear deterrent consisting of four Trident missile submarines, while the Royal Marines provide commando units for amphibious assault and for specialist reinforcement forces in and beyondthe NATO area.TheBr itish Army had a reported strength of 100,010 in July 2006 and as of 2006 9.0% of the regular Armed Forces were women. TheRoyal Air Force had a strength of 45,210. This puts the total number of
regular Armed Forces personnel at 180,690 (not including civilians). This number is supported by
reserve forces, including over 35,000 from the Territorial Army. The total number of serving personnel,including reserve forces, is therefore in the region of 225,000 (taking into account Navy, Marines andAir Force reserves).