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Military Poll Shows 6 Out of 10 Wary of Obama

By Rick Pedraza   |   Friday, 02 Jan 2009 11:58 AM

A recent survey conducted by The Military Times shows six out of 10 active-duty service members are uncertain or pessimistic about President-elect Barack Obama as the nation’s next commander in chief.

Respondents to the survey of more than 1,900 active-duty subscribers to Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times newspapers say much of the uncertainty lies in Obama's lack of military service and experience in leadership abilities.

"Being that the Marine Corps can be sent anywhere in the world with the snap of his fingers, nobody has confidence in this guy as commander in chief," one lance corporal who asked not to be identified said in a follow up interview with The Times.

Other issues causing uncertainty among the ranks are Obama’s stated 16-month timetable for pulling combat troops out of Iraq and his call to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy to allow gays to serve openly in the military.

Half of all respondents say they disapprove of Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office on Jan. 20. A slightly higher percent say they support the plan to leave the country by the end of 2011.

The survey shows eight out of 10 respondents say the U.S. should have gone to war in Afghanistan and express optimism the U.S. will succeed there. A majority support plans to boost the number of troops in Afghanistan, while 30 percent say troops will need to stay for more than a decade to achieve its goals.

A higher percentage of respondents say outgoing President George W. Bush has their best interests at heart over Obama. Nearly half described their political views as conservative or very conservative. Slightly more than half said they consider themselves Republicans, 22 percent independents and 13 percent Democrats.

One-third of respondents say they are optimistic about the newly elected president, including eight out of 10 black service members.

The survey notes that responses are not representative of the opinions of the military as a whole, and that the survey group overall under-represents minorities, women and junior enlisted service members, and over-represents soldiers.

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