Poll of military finds dimmer view of Iraq war
The U.S. military, once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war, has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory...
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military, once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war, has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory, a new poll says.
For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president's handling of the war than approve of it, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll.
When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83 percent of poll respondents said success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number is down to 50 percent.
Only 35 percent of military members polled this year said they approve of the way Bush is handling the war, and 42 percent said they disapprove. While approval of the president's war leadership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.
Just as telling, only 41 percent of the military now say the United States should have gone to war in Iraq, down from 65 percent in 2003. That closely reflects beliefs of the general population — 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today-Gallup poll.
The Military Times survey, conducted by mail Nov. 13 through Dec. 22, is the fourth annual gauge of active-duty military subscribers to the newspapers. Results are not representative of the military as a whole. The survey's respondents, 945 this year, are on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military population.
U.S. casualties: Three Marines were killed in battle in Iraq, the military said Friday, making December the year's deadliest month for U.S. troops with the toll reaching 106. The Marines, all assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, died Thursday of wounds during fighting in western Anbar province, the U.S. military said. At least 2,997 members of the U.S. military have been killed in the war, according to an Associated Press count.
Iraqis slain: A suicide bomber killed at least nine people near a Shiite mosque Friday in Baghdad, and 32 tortured bodies were found across the country.
U.S. launches raids: U.S. troops killed six people and destroyed a weapons cache in separate raids in Baghdad and northwest of the Iraqi capital, the military said.
Iranian suspects freed: Two senior Iranian operatives who were detained by U.S. forces in Iraq and were strongly suspected of planning attacks against American military forces and Iraqi targets were expelled to Iran on Friday, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials. The decision to free the men was made by the Iraqi government and has angered U.S. military officials.
Seattle Times news services
The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Among respondents, 66 percent have deployed at least once to Iraq or Afghanistan. That number is 72 percent in the overall active-duty force, according to the Department of Defense.
The poll has come to be viewed by some as a barometer of the professional career military. It is the only independent poll done on an annual basis.
Professor David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland, said he was not surprised by the changing attitude within the military.
"They're seeing more casualties and fatalities and less progress," Segal said. "Part of what we're seeing is a recognition that the intelligence that led to the war was wrong."
Segal said he believes military opinion often mirrors that of the civilian population, even though it might lag in time. He also said the military "will always be more pro-military and pro-war than the civilians. That's why they are in this line of work."
Whatever war plan Bush announces next month, its ultimate goal likely will be to replace U.S. troops with Iraqis. The military is not optimistic that will happen soon.
Only about one in every five service members said large numbers of U.S. troops can be replaced with Iraqi troops within two years. More than one-third think it will take more than five years. And more than half think the United States will have to stay in Iraq more than five years to achieve its goals.
Almost half of those responding think the United States needs more troops in Iraq. A surprising 13 percent said the United States should have no troops there.
As for Afghanistan force levels, 39 percent think more U.S. troops are needed there. But while they want more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly three-quarters of respondents think the military is stretched too thin to be effective.
Approval for Bush's overall performance as president remains high, at 52 percent. That's down from his high of 71 percent in 2004, but still far better than approval ratings of the general population, where that number has fallen into the 30s.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
(Courtesy of LeMay — America's Car Museum) New LeMay exhibit to look at NASCAR LeMay — America's Car Museum in Tacoma will look at the wil...
Post a comment