Here’s a very different kind of poll from what we usually report: a survey of 3,437 retired and active military officers, holding ranks of major or lieutenant commander and above, on the state of the U.S. military. The “nonscientific” survey was conducted online Dec. 7, 2007 to Jan. 15, 2008 by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for a New American Security, which describes itself as an independent and nonpartisan research institution.
The topline was that these officers “see a force stretched dangerously thin and a country ill-prepared for the next fight.”
Some bullet points:
– Sixty percent of the officers said the U.S. military was weaker today than it was five years ago, and more than half of those cited the demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the reason. Nearly 90 percent believed that the Iraq war had “stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin.”
– Asked whether it was reasonable or unreasonable to expect that the U.S. could successfully wage another war at this time if it became necessary, 80 percent answered that it was unreasonable. The officers were also asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, how prepared the U.S. was to fight a major combat operation involving Iran, Syria, North Korea or the Taiwan Straits, and the readiness score for all four averaged 4.8 out of 10.
– The officers were conflicted on the question of torture. Fifty-three percent agreed with the statement “torture is never acceptable” while 44 percent disagreed. On whether waterboarding constituted torture, 46 percent said yes, and 43 percent said no.
– The officers gave very low marks to the decisions on levels of troop staffing at the start of the war and the order to disband the Iraqi military.