Poll for Military Papers Finds Troops’ Support for War Plunging

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By: E&P Staff

It’s often written or said in the media that, despite public opposition to the Iraq war here at home, military personnel strongly back President Bush’s handling of the conflict. But a poll for the Military Times newspapers, released Friday, shows that more troops disapprove of the president?s handling of the war than approve of it.

It came on the day that at least four more Americans died in the war, pushing the monthly total to 107, the high point for the year — and the total figure to 2,997, near the milestone of 3,000.

Barely one in three service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, according to the new poll for the four papers (Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Times). In another startling finding, only 41% now feel it was the right idea to go to war in Iraq in the first place.

And the number who feel success there is likely has shrunk from 83% in 2004 to about 50% today. A surprising 13% say there should be no U.S. troops in Iraq at all.

This comes even though only about one in ten called their overall political views “liberal.”

The annual mail survey was conducted Nov. 13 through Dec. 22. Among the respondents, two in three have deployed at least once to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents think today?s military is stretched too thin to be effective.

“The poll has come to be viewed by some as a barometer of the professional career military,” the Military Times wrote on Friday. “It is the only independent poll done on an annual basis. The margin of error on this year?s poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.”

While approval of Bush?s handling of the war has plunged, approval for his overall performance as president remains at 52%.

The poll also found that while the personnel believe the public has a positive view of them, they are convinced the media do not ? only 39 % said they think the media have a favorable view of the troops.

“While President Bush always portrays the war in Iraq as part of the larger war on terrorism, many in the military are not convinced,” the Military Times reported. “The respondents were split evenly ? 47 percent both ways ? on whether the Iraq war is part of the war on terrorism. The rest had no opinion.”

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