Poll: U.S. military image plunging, as many cite ‘woke’ policies, extremism in the ranks

A majority of Americans say top Pentagon leaders are overly focused on partisan politics rather than warfighting, with half saying liberal  “woke” practices are undermining U.S. military effectiveness, according to a new poll.

The just-released survey by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation reflected the nation’s political divisions, also finding that 46% of those polled cited the presence of so-called “far right” or “extremist” personnel serving in uniform as a cause for concern.

Overall, the nation’s trust in the military has dropped precipitously, with only 45% of Americans reporting having the highest level of confidence, compared to 70% in their survey conducted four years ago. The perceived politicization of the armed forces is seen as the primary reason for the decline, according to the Reagan Foundation survey.

“No other public institution has seen as sharp a decline” in public confidence in recent years, the pollsters noted.

“There was also a decrease in those confident in the military’s ability to act in a professional and nonpolitical manner, from 40% in 2021 to 35%,” according to the survey’s summary. “These trends seem to demonstrate a connection between Americans’ sense of the military’s ability to perform its core function and their perception of its leaders becoming overly politicized.”

The military’s perception problem is having a real-world impact on filling the ranks. Only 13% of 18 to 29-year-olds said they were “highly willing” to enlist with 25% saying they were “somewhat willing.” The Reagan Foundation survey noted that 20% are “not very willing” to join while 26% said they weren’t willing to enlist at all.

According to the survey, most Americans want the Biden administration and Congress to continue aiding Ukraine in its fight against invading Russian forces. Perceptions of Moscow as an enemy are now at 82%, up from 65% just last year. While fewer than half of Americans considered Ukraine an ally in 2021, more than 75% now see Kyiv as being aligned with Washington.

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