Foreign and Defense Policy, Pethokoukis

Here’s how armed forces of other nations view the US military

Image Credit: Sgt. Alvin Williams, U.S. Marine Corps (Public Domains)

Image Credit: Sgt. Alvin Williams, U.S. Marine Corps (Public Domains)

I write almost exclusively on economic policy, but in honor of Veterans Day, I thought I would blog this: Over at Reddit, there is a long discussion of what members of other military forces think of the US military. (Spoiler: They’re pretty great.)  I plucked out a few examples, but the discussion is really interesting and worth checking out.

– “My Brother was in the UK Navy for 6 years serving on the Vanguard Submarines. He spent 6 months or so over in the US During the Trident tests. His comments were as follows:

-The US Troops get treated like heroes everywhere.

-Their bases are far nicer, Starbucks and McDonalds on the actual base.

-The sheer scale and number of Boats and Ships was incredible. He got to see some of your aircraft carriers and thought they were incredible. The budget the US Military have is insane, and it really shows.

-Everyone was really friendly.

-He felt like the military in general in the US were treated incredibly well, whereas over here in the UK; it’s not a big deal. For instance, a few of his friends went to Sea World in Florida whilst they were on break. As soon as they found out they were troops, they got free entry, free drinks and free food. When they went to the whale show, they got a mention over the voice comm which told them to stand up and gave them an applause. This’d never really happen in the UK, the only real day of the year where this happens is today, remembrance day”


“French here, I served in Afghanistan. Americans have the best equipement, more food but worse food. No alcohol…Also the training from what I gathered is quite different.

The initial training and the first few years are the hardest, it’s mostly based on endurance and deprivations (sleep, food etc). Which as I’ve understood is quite different from the Americans, apart from the initial training it’s mostly actual physical preparation (alike an athlete).
Overall french soldiers and american soldiers tend to have a very different physique, which funnily enough each side takes great pride in. Americans soldiers work a lot on strength (training at the gym is pretty unusual in the french militaty) and run a calorie surplus so they tend to be pretty big (im making generalizations of course) and it seems being big gets you a lot of respect. In the French military it’s the guy who can run the most, can do 100 pull ups etc, and if you put up too much muscle you’re mocked as a”bodybuilder” which is not a compliment.”


“British army. Worked with some marines in afghan. Skills and drills wise, very good and their levels of physical strength very good. Any criticism would be nitpicking the little things that we place emphasis on that they probably dont. Spacing on patrol, interaction with the locals, moving firing positions, squaring away personal kit etc.

The thing that got me about them though is how enthusiastic they are. Not just about soldiering. About everything. So willing to help us if we needed it. Literally giving a patrol a whole pallet of gatorade for example. They were also surprisingly willing to swap some nice bits of kit for really quite trivial things like camo shorts and under armour shirts. I think we brits have some serious kit envy about you guys.

Really enjoyed working with them and hope to do it again soon.”


“Nepalese here. I’m not an Army here but I’ve got a number of friends serving in Nepalese army and some of them have come here (states) for trainings (mostly with Rangers). Based on their experiences, as far as training itself, they didn’t have that big of difficulty. From what I hear, Nepalese Army’s Commando training for 42 days (I believe) is among the most rigorous.

But, American Army is run amazingly well. US Army seemed way too advanced due to the availability of technology and latest weapons (strongest army, so not a big surprise, really). Overall, physically, it wasn’t really that tough for them to cope with exercise regimen and what not. But they were simply blown away by the remarkable way with which the US army functioned.”


“French Foreign Legion here. Trained with the Marines a couple of times.

They can’t run for sh-t, but they’re cool. Lots of upper body strength.

“Canadian here as well, worked with the american close protection teams on several occasions and they were very professional. A little bit cowboyish but their procedures are different than ours so I can’t really comment on why they do things the way they do.

But every time they would go out of their way to help us out any way they could. I remember when we first arrived in Afghanistan our commanders left us high and dry. Nothing was organized for us, no sleeping quarters no equipment, no vehicles, f—ing nothing. We had to scrounge up everything for our team. The Americans gave us cases of ammo without even blinking an eye and helped us with contacts and Intel. F—ing amazing guys.

We ended up helping them out when they were short quite a few times and vice versa even though we weren’t authorized and neither were they.

Needless to say I would work with them any f—ing day. You can take that sh-t to the bank.”

– Aussie here. Worked with the yanks around a decade ago. Great guys who were unbeatable in weapons training. We would stand in awe watching them at the range pull weapons out of nowhere rather than reload. A little on the noisy side back in barracks and everyone seemed to be a sergeant”.


– “When I went boom thanks to an IED, it was a US helicopter that medevaced me. It’s hard to put it down in words, but the thought that they’d rush out to save a foreign soldier really stuck with me. The flight medic was professional, and incredibly compassionate. Whenever I think about it, I get overcome with a sense of gratitude, it often brings me to tears.

I know what they did was just par for the course in terms of being part of the coalition, but for me it will always be an incredible act that really gets me on a personal level.

Just to add, even without the medevac, my experience with multiple elements of the US military was incredibly good. Went on an exercise with Marines before my deployment, worked with them and the Army during my deployment, great people. A few of them thoroughly convinced me that the whole southern hospitality trait doesn’t leave a southern boy no matter where he is.” [National affiliation unknown]

Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukis, and AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

19 thoughts on “Here’s how armed forces of other nations view the US military

  1. As a veteran and serving reservist, I sure am glad that the GOP is sacrificing the Pentagon on a cross of domestic Austerity. When push comes to shove, the GOP would rather keep food stamp cuts paired with defense cuts than no cuts.

    Cuz, you know, hyperinflation.

    • That is just a shit thing to say. The simple reality is our budget regardless of the department is outsized. Cutting the military budget is no way hurts their preparedness.

      • Jonas,

        Respectfully sir, you are wrong.

        The problem with the military budget is not it’s size, but that of gov’t contracting everywhere in the US budget.

        Items cost more than they should, and take years longer than they should to produce.

        The military, like other agencies – say local police or schools, will cut so it HURTS, and is visible, to gain political points. No one cares if you cut mid level bureacrats.

        The personal side is also screwed up on the same way all federal employees are: you either get 20 years and a pension (that is unfunded and counts current revenue) or you get nothing.

        If military folks (and other fed gov employees) could serve 6 or 10 years (any # really) and take a PORTABLE retirement, it would solve a lot of the bloat problems.

        If we could solve the procurement problem and the “20 and out” problem, we could cut the budget a good chunk and not affect readiness.

        Your blanket comment may have been meant well, but was wrong.

        Hyperinflation, entitlements, and welfare are a whole different discussion(s).

        • Please, oh please, explain to me why deficits matter with negative real interest rates and a 7% output gap.

          Monetarists don’t care right noe either.

          If we are at full employment, I’m a deficit hawk.

          • DUH, In 1970 a silver dollar and a paper dollar were equal. Now it takes about 22 paper dollars to equal a silver (REAL) dollar.
            This difference is 100% caused by deficit spending. 95% of the value of the dollar destroyed and you do not care????
            ONLY the miracle of modern Capitalism by constantly dropping the real prices of ALL consumer goods has hidden the disaster from persons of ECONOMIC IGNORANCE and cluelessness.
            Do you really think there is no downside to deficit spending just because the crooks who engage in the practice do not point it out to you????

          • Inflation, by printing money, is THEFT of all citizens of their saving by devaluation of their buying power.

            See: Weimar Germany.

      • Also, as veteran serving on active duty, I remember why I’m serving. It’s a SERVICE after all. Budget cuts and sequestration might not be all fun, but it’s needed. A lot of fat being trimmed. It’ll be a tough few years, but we’ll make it through and we’ll be a better Total Force for it.

        • Hi, I agree that there is fat, but DOD can’t legally cut fat. Only congress can kill major programs or allow base closures.

          The pentagon can only cut O&M. They can only create a hollow force with 20% excess infrastructure.

          It’s terrible. We probably can’t fight a major war right now.

  2. I sure am glad that the GOP is sacrificing the Pentagon on a cross of domestic Austerity“…

    That makes no sense at all, what are you trying to say here?…

    • What I’m saying is that the GOP has two policy choices:

      1. domestic spending cuts AND defense cuts

      2. no domestic spending cuts AND NO defense cuts.

      …guess which one they prefer?

  3. I am not sure how so many have turned this excellent and encouraging piece by James Pethokoukis into such a negative argument about Washington politics. Let’s take this report in the positive light it was intended – we have a military that is both very capable and well respected by other nation’s military members. To me, the compliments of these other military members should cause us all to respect those serving in our US military with an even deeper appreciation. They sacrifice for all of us.

    • I’m not much of a thread commenter but I had to agree with you Bill. Honestly, (even though everyone I know personally who serves is a stand-up citizen) I was expecting the opposite reaction from foreign soldiers. This makes me proud.

      Hell yea guys. Keep up the good work.

  4. ” In the French military it’s the guy who can run the most, can do 100 pull ups etc, ”
    The French military respects soldiers who can run better.

    Well, I sure didn’t see THAT coming……

  5. Thank you for taking the time to put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard) to do this. Married to a Marine with over 30 yrs in service. Heartening to hear. Marines “can’t run worth “s**t” . Hubby says, “well, this may be true as the French do have much more practice than Marines — running AWAY, that is.” Wink, wink.

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