Government Watch / Keeping America Safe / National Security / Politics

Confidence in U.S. Military Falls from 70% to 48% Since 2018


Over recent decades, only three institutions – the military, small business and police – have consistently maintained “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of public confidence in levels exceeding 50%, according to annual surveys.  

Conspicuously, each of those three institutions is traditionally associated more closely with conservative principles.  

Naturally, the political left found that intolerable and set about working to cut them down to size.  

Years of demonizing our nation’s police forces have brought record spikes in violent crime, as well as perilous recruitment and retention crises.  

And now, it appears that the left has found success in undermining the military as well.  

In the span of just five years, according to a new Ronald Reagan Institute annual National Defense Survey, the percentage of Americans expressing “a great deal of confidence” in the U.S. military has plummeted from 70% to just 48%:  

Every year, the Reagan Institute asks about Americans’ level of trust and confidence in a variety of public institutions. Just five years ago, 70% said they had a great deal of trust and confidence in the military.  However, that percentage steadily declined, and last year, for the first time, a minority of Americans had the highest level of confidence in the military, only 45%…Now 48% say they have a great deal of trust and confidence in the military. Notably, this is still down 22 points from merely a few years ago.  

Unfortunately, that Reagan Institute poll doesn’t stand in isolation, as other survey groups show the same recent decline. According to the Pew Research Center’s annual survey, the number of Americans expressing “a great deal” of confidence in the military has fallen to an unprecedented low of just 25%.  Alarmingly, 25% of respondents also reported “not too much/no confidence at all” in the military in that Pew poll.  

Although public trust has declined across multiple institutions in recent years, none of their declines match the decline of trust in the military, which has been especially pronounced. “No other public institution asked about,” the Reagan Institute emphasizes, “including the Supreme Court, Congress, the Presidency, the news media, or law enforcement, has seen as sharp a decline in public trust over this time.”  

Just as notably, the reason for the decline in public confidence won’t surprise conservatives. Woke politicization stands above all other causes offered by respondents, with a surprising degree of cross-partisan agreement:  

To better understand this trend, the Reagan Institute added a new series of questions about the extent to which a variety of factors have decreased public confidence in the military. The top response is military leadership becoming overly politicized, with 62% overall saying that has decreased their confidence. This includes 60% of Democrats, 60% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans.  

Moreover, the president receives particular blame from respondents, versus rank-and-file military leaders or personnel:  

While they see civilian DOD leaders and uniformed military leaders as contributing to this issue, they are more likely to blame presidents as Commanders-in-Chief. Nearly 60% of respondents say that performance and competence of presidents has decreased their confidence in the military.  

Afghanistan withdrawal, anyone?   

That is not to say that military leadership is without considerable responsibility. Take General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who in his prototypical bellicosity defended the teaching of critical race theory at the U.S. Military Academy. “On the issue of critical race theory,” Milley said, “a lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is.”  

This helps explain why every branch of the U.S. military has struggled to meet its 2022 recruiting goals.  The U.S. Army faced a 40% shortfall earlier this year, with the Navy announcing that it was 1,473 sailors short of its own goal. Retired Lieutenant General and Heritage Foundation scholar Thomas Spoehr went so far as to note that, “2022 is the year we question the sustainability of an all-volunteer force.”  

In an increasingly unstable world, with major powers China and Russia increasing levels of threat, that is something that we simply cannot tolerate.  

With some urgency, Congress can play a role, and this week Congress forced the Biden Administration to abandon its politicized COVID vaccine mandate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA now reads, “Not later than 30 days after the day of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall rescind the mandate that members of the Armed Forces be vaccinated against COVID-19 pursuant to the memorandum dated August 24, 2021, regarding ‘Mandatory Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination of Department of Defense Service Members.”  

Whatever one’s view of vaccines or vaccine mandates, forcible discharges illustrated the very type of increased politicization at the center of the public’s declining trust.  

The new Republican House majority must press even further and reverse the politicization of the U.S. military, before the rot deepens and public trust evaporates to even more dangerous lows.  

Reprinted with Permission from - CFIF by - Timothy H. Lee

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Deborah Styron
3 months ago

Putting confidence in anyone but God is really the true test for the strength of a nation. God doesn’t put stock in the strength of man. Look at Israel- one man can chase a thousand.
The problem is ? No problem- it’s just a matter of perspective and people’s opinion. No survey speaks for me. While the general morals and policies of our politician seek to work its schemes, there will be consequences and backlashes for this country but who knows the depth of the wisdom of God. Perhaps we’ll have a revival and things set right or we’ll become a second rate nation. Who knows? That’s said, the military is not the answer- they are a necessary evil in the wars against nations. One day that will end for everybody when Jesus returns and sets up His throne in Jerusalem.
I say to the science of data analysis, don’t trust the survey- look what happened to the ten spies and Israel who listened to them.
A judgement of 40 years for unbelief.
I believe our country still have the purpose of leading the world in spreading the Gospel and giving place for those who are persecuted for their religious beliefs as well as training up foreign ministers and sending missionaries. That’s the real strength behind our nation- God’s army.

Gunny Joe
3 months ago
Reply to  Deborah Styron

If the tv and in person preachers continue to teach the touchy feely, name it and claim it doctrine. Our nation of believers will drop from the reported 43% national average of believers to way lower. That 43% is down from70-60% 10 year’s ago

Philip Hammersley
3 months ago

What NORMAL person would have confidence in a military that had a DISASTER in Afghanistan, has commercials touting sex freaks rather than warriors, and has lessened training requirements to boost “diversity?”

Mario Capparuccini
3 months ago

Well said.

3 months ago

The three tenets of the Biden regime for the New World Order, destroy the economy and the military and disarm the populace. With out honest elections One World Government is possibly only one more election cycle away.

3 months ago

I as well as most of you have never participated in any of these surveys – ever. So, who are they asking to come up with these numbers? I live near and still work at a major military instillation. The military has the same problems as the general population, the same issues but from what I see on a daily basis doesn’t alarm me. I see a multi-national Intergrated military force that adapts, overcomes and is ready. They have slackers, radicals and misfits. Not everyone in the military should be in the military and they are weeded out. We still have a lot of combat veterans standing on the wall, who have been in combat and are training our troops to survive and be victorious. I have confidence if the flag goes up our military will prevail and make up proud. I only ask, I you sent out our military to fight don’t tie their hands like we’ve done in the past. They will win the day if we let them. If you don’t want to win, don’t send out our warriors to be global policemen.

Gunny Joe
3 months ago
Reply to  Smike

You sir have you head impacted so far you can not see daylight.

James P.
3 months ago

I will never-ever lose my respect and confidence to those brave men and women who serve with courage in the theaters where they are sent. The Brass in Washington? That’s a different story.

3 months ago

Sadness no doubt permeates our few and real surviving veterans who fought in WW2, Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan. No little girlie “soldiers” just hard fighting real Americans. Buit then that’s the ultimate goal of the far left and the rinos (far worse!!) to turn the U.S. into another dictatorship and of course shove our nation into the “New World Order” spoken of so “lovingly” by Bush Sr. during his presidential acceptance speech. “We must usher in the ‘new world order’. Watched that speech. Even then just really beginning to see the beginning of our ultimate destruction, it was chilling.

3 months ago
Reply to  Denise

Every president EXCEPT Trump has been working towards that goal. Hillary was supposed to seal the deal, that’s why they will destroy any one not from the deep state.

Patriot Will
3 months ago

The ironic thing is that it’s not the fault of our soldiers that our military is less and less respected and trusted. Most of our troops are honorable and patriotic. It’s the political and military top level leaders who are ruining our military, by making decisions which are weaking our military readiness and increasing our dysfunction and wokeness.

3 months ago
Reply to  Patriot Will

Exactly PW! This government in place now must continue to remove/replace as many of our military leaders as possible to complete their mission of having total dominion over the people of this country.

Our military is the only institution, if allowed, that can take over this country for the will of those in power.

Our World history is crammed full of such maneuvering.

David Millikan
3 months ago

PRESIDENT TRUMP builds our Military up and DICTATOR Beijing biden Tears it down.
We were Safe and Secure with PRESIDENT TRUMP with the #1 Economy, Energy Security, Secured Borders, and Military in the World.
With DICTATOR Beijing biden Destroying our Country and Military
I can’t even sleep anymore knowing he Bows Down to Communist China and Iran giving them everything and putting the United States last destroying US on purpose.

3 months ago

Austin, Milley and the clowns at DoD are hell bent on weakening and then ultimately destroying the USA. Woke military with rainbow patches probably won’t intimidate Xi.

3 months ago

Well as the political Generals and Admirals on the Joint Chiefs continue to implement more and more of the destructive woke agenda within our military, I would expect that confidence number to continue to decline as time goes by. Military effectiveness has been replaced by political correctness and “How woke can you go?”. Neither of which matters one bit on the battle field against a committed and capable foe whose only interest is in eliminating you.

3 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Decline is already here. The Armed Forces are falling short on their quotas and they are not getting the high quality of recruits that are needed to operate the high tech equipment now in service. As you stated: Effectiveness is out the window and political/woke is in.

Pete from St Pete
3 months ago
Reply to  Max

I served 20 years in the Air Force and can assure you that wokeism is the antitheist of patriotism. Obama’s efforts to promote progressive officers has paid off handsomely and is adversely affecting unit cohesion and morale.

3 months ago

Thank you for your service. I served 30 years in the USN as well as almost 30 for another Federal agency. You are correct that Obama’s reign in office put in the leadership that has devastated the US military up to this time.

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