Is the reputation of the US military in freefall? It really looks like this.
The Ronald Reagan Institute has just announced that public confidence in the military has continued to drop sharply. The institute’s survey in November 2021 found that only 45% of those polled say “a lot of confidence in the military”, down 25 points in three years. The institute adds, “A growing number of Americans say they have little or no confidence in the military, which is up 15 points in the past three years.”
The military isn’t the only public institution to suffer from a bad reputation, but it has a habit of basking in public esteem. As a result, he may not know how to recover.
The fall in the February 2021 poll – where the military was at 56% – may have been exacerbated by the actions of military leaders following the violent protest on Capitol Hill on January 6. Although some Americans believe that military leaders stopped a coup by Donald trumpDonald Trump Biden goes to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a “dumb” over withdrawal from Afghanistan First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour sparks protests and violence MORE, General Mark’s actions “We are the guys with the guns” Milley probably repelled many Americans who thought he looked like a Turk generalissimo.
It was probably the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul in August – the first time the American people have witnessed a real-time defeat – that has driven the number of polls down. To this was added the death of 13 soldiers killed by a suicide bomber at the gate of Kabul airport as they worked to speed up the humanitarian evacuation. Of the 13, 12 were in their twenties and all were volunteers.
How can the army recover?
The worst would be to wage another war.
The Pentagon may think like the coach of the Navy football team who, if they have a bad season, will have a little slack if they still manage to beat Army. Their judgment on these matters is poor, so what missions will both protect America and uplift them in the eyes of their compatriots?
U.S. military leaders may not be reconciled by the end of the Cold War to the Soviet Union, which was not marked by an epic Kursk-style armored battle, but by Soviet citizens who decided that it was was over because the Soviet economy could not provide a decent income. standard of living. The rulers have missed the Big Game and may think that an argument with Russia in eastern Ukraine could redeem their weakened representatives, forgetting that these Russians will fight with their backs on their border.
Unique in the armies of the world, the Pentagon does not think it is responsible for the defense of the borders of its country. Instead of defending America, he defends American interests, which is not viewed abroad as positively as it is in Massachusetts Avenue think tanks and in the green rooms of television.
The brass to-do list might be:
- Start a conversation about how the military can help defend the country’s borders. In the United States, this is considered a civilian law enforcement function, but it’s time for taxpayers to get something back for the $ 700 billion they give to the Pentagon every year.
- Instead of distracting some right-wing extremists scattered through the ranks, end the military’s epidemic of sexual assault. Why any father of a girl would allow her to enlist is a mystery, and that problem is the Deathwatch Beetle inside the service.
- End the culture of impunity which excuses the accidental killing of civilians on the battlefield, as long as they are foreigners. The recent drone killing of ten innocent Ahmadi family members in Kabul was excused by the Air Force Inspector General because the shooters “truly believed” they were targeting a threat against US forces. Alright then.
The army is an economic enterprise. It draws on a generous budget not only to pay itself, but also for captive defense contractors who manufacture weapons and provide services – and hire ex-military personnel. It is not “Military, Inc.” like in Pakistan or Egypt, but their economic interests are not always the same as those of the American people, and it is time to put the emphasis on the organization so that it starts to get its money’s worth.
A generalized budget cut of 10 percent – including the reduction in the business jet fleet – would attract the attention of the electronic ring, especially since the Pentagon has just reminded us that the terrorist group ISIS- K might be able to launch attacks from Afghanistan against the United States in as little as six months. Why these villains are still standing after 20 years of unlimited funding and battlefield authority for commanders has not been explained.
ISIS-K is not a threat to the US military. The guy they need to worry about is the ambitious Republican congressman who bears no consequences for repeatedly voting against the interests of the military, despite the usual empty exhortations from military leaders to “Support the troops!” Or “Poutine !!!” This politician will succeed because Central America, which is the basis of recruitment and a strong national defense, will not risk the lives of its children for the brass, after having ignored the ethical lapses or the personal enrichment of military officials. .
Reagan Institute poll reported Americans still want to engage with the world and they recognize China is the greatest threat to the United States
On the flip side, only 42% think the United States should be “more engaged and take the lead” (up from 51% in February 2021), which could offer less leeway for military adventures. Worrisome for military leaders, only 33% of those polled consider “military leaders, such as officers and generals” to be the best, possibly due to the disorganized retreat from Kabul, the abandonment of billions of dollars of military equipment to the Taliban and the fact that they were unaware that the Taliban placed sleeper agents in most Afghan government agencies and institutions.
If the Pentagon were a publicly traded company, the board would have fired executives and feared a shareholder lawsuit. That’s what the 2016 election started, and it’s up to the next president to finish the job.
James Durso (@james_durso) is the Managing Director of Corsair LLC, a supply chain consulting firm. He was a professional member of the Commission for the Closure and Realignment of Defense Bases in 2005 and the Commission on War Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Durso served as a US Navy officer for 20 years and specialized in logistics and security assistance. His overseas military assignments were in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and he served in Iraq as a civilian transport advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority. He served afloat as a supply officer for the submarine USS SKATE (SSN 578).