KABUL: Less Americans now trust the US military as more people continue to lose confidence mostly because of its faulty withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to a new survey published Wednesday.
For the third year in a row, the Reagan Institute’s national defense survey found a declining percentage of its 2,500 respondents who reported high confidence in the military, across political, gender, age and other demographics. The survey also has questions about confidence in Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, law enforce, the media and other institutions.
“We have tested over the last three years a number of public institutions and institutional trust is declining overall in American society,” Rachel Hoff, the Reagan Institute’s policy director, told reporters Wednesday. “That’s perhaps not surprising, but the way that the military is falling so much more quickly than the other institutions, we think is notable, particularly in the light of the real understanding that the American people have about the national security threats we face.”
Confidence in the military began to fall in 2019, from 70% to 63%, and then down to 56% earlier this year. In the nine months since that last survey, confidence dropped down to 45%, the sharpest decline and the lowest level of confidence in the military since the survey began.
Along party lines, every group reported a declining confidence, but it was more stark for Republicans: a 17% drop versus 9% for independents and 6% for Democrats.
When asked to elaborate on their choices, it came down to two camps: Those who are confident in the military report they are so because of confidence in service members, while those who aren’t confident have several reasons why, without a clear prevailing opinion.
“But political leadership is at the top of that list,” Hoff said. “So that could range from anything from presidents of the United States ― whether that’s the current president, the previous president ― it could range from the way that our political leaders, say in Congress, talk about the military, the politicization of military leadership more broadly.”