Sunday, November 5, 2017

President Trump and the Military

A recent poll by the Military Times supports academic studies by staff officers: Commissioned officers are a self-selected elite while non-commissioned officers and regular troops tend to more closely reflect the civilian population. Commissioned officers more often disapprove of the President and his policies. That gulf is even wider among Air Force and Navy officers.

"Overall, about 44 percent of all troops surveyed in the Military Times poll have a favorable view of Trump, while roughly 40 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. That’s a stark contrast to opinion polls of the general public, which have shown Trump’s popularity at less than 40 percent and an unfavorable rating as high as 56 percent.
"Yet, the poll of more than 1,100 active-duty troops, conducted in September, shows a deep divide over service members’ opinions of the commander in chief, whose first nine months in office have been marked by military policies that have drawn both praise and concern from Pentagon leaders.
"While almost 48 percent of enlisted troops approve of Trump, only about 30 percent of officers say the same, the poll shows
 Officers have college degrees. Some enlisteds do, also, but officers are required to have completed bachelor's degrees. In the higher ranks, master's degrees are common. Many colonels and generals earned doctorates. Again, granted, among non-commissioned officers, especially master sergeants or senior chief petty officers (E-8) some also complete college or university degrees, but more often, regular troops who earn advanced diplomas become commissioned officers. So, the final tally is that President Trump enjoys less support among educated citizens--even (or especially) those who are self-identified as conservative or Republican.

On this blog in July, I reviewed three studies of political attitudes within and about the military. (See "Do You Know Your Military?") Gen. James Mattis, Lt. Col. James K. Dempsey, and Col. Heidi Urben all found that enlisted soldiers and sailors more closely reflect the populace from which they come while commissioned officers, especially staff officers, do not.

More to the point, President Trump enjoys only grudging support from the conservatives within the Republican Party. His populist programs on trade and immigration set him against those who favor free enterprise.

Similarly, while those in military service often adhere to traditional opinions about gender and sexuality, the fact is that the historical trend has been for the inclusion of any and all who volunteer to serve. With some notable exceptions, the realities of war first brought women in as nurses (Army 1901; Navy 1908). Beyond that the U.S. Navy accepted its first female petty officer in 1917. (The Army waited until World War II.) A parallel history applies to race: For 200 years, African-Americans served with distinction, honor, and bravery while suffering discrimination. President Truman desegregated the military in 1948. Now the discussion is about transgendering. (No one seems to be trans-racing.) The President is out of step with America's military leaders.

The Military Times poll also showed political support for the President to be weaker within the Navy and Air Force than within the Army and Marines. The easy explanation is that the Navy and Air Force require more technical ability and critical thinking.

From Pearl Harbor to 9/11
Challenge Coins 
World War II Dinner and Dance
The Scientific Method

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