by Micaela Burrow
Half of Americans believe “so-called ‘woke’ policies” cause the military to be less effective, according to a poll published Thursday by the conservative Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.
The National Defense Survey, which was conducted in November, found that overall, perceived politicization among the military’s top brass continues to drive historically low levels of trust in the institution among Americans. Half of respondents, mostly Republicans, identified “woke” policies, such as a focus on race and gender diversity in the U.S. service branches and training academies, as one of the greatest threats to the military’s overall effectiveness and the greatest contributor to decreased trust.
In contrast, 46% of respondents, leaning Democrat, saw “far-right or extremist individuals” serving in the military as a primary contributor to loss of confidence in the military’s ability to carry out its overall mission.
The survey did not define “woke” for respondents. However, the Department of Defense has emphasized diversity in race and gender or sexual orientation among the ranks in recent years and doubled down on combating alleged extremism, which some perceive as targeted against majority groups.
Instances like the Air Force’s apparent promotion of a seminar on “transgender visibility” and other LGBT-centered activities, could also contribute to perceived wokeness.
Defense leaders maintain that racial diversity is a “readiness issue,” critical to ensuring the total force is healthy and equipped with a broad variety of tools to meet the increasingly complex challenges of the modern battlefield.
In September, the DOD announced the creation of a civilian-staffed Diversity and Inclusion committee.
Americans’ faith in the military’s ability “to act in a professional and nonpolitical manner” dropped from 40% in 2021 to 35% in 2022, according to the survey’s summary. A little over half of respondents expressed concern about U.S. ability to win wars.
“These trends seem to demonstrate a connection between Americans’ sense of the military’s ability to perform its core function and their perception of its leaders becoming overly politicized,” the summary continued.
In 2018, when the Reagan Institute began performing the annual survey, 70% of respondents said they had a “great deal” of trust in the U.S. military, according to Military Times. That number dropped to 47% in 2021, climbing slightly to 48% in 2022.
However, this year’s survey is the first to parse out the contributing factors to declining confidence, Military Times reported. The 2021 survey asked an open-ended question allowing participants to write in the reasons for their response, and the most common was “politicization,” Rachel Hoff, the Reagan Institute’s policy director, said on Tuesday.
Polling firms Shaw & Company Research and Beacon Research collaborated on the Reagan Institute’s annual survey, questioning 2,500 individuals between Nov. 9 and Nov. 17, according to the summary. The survey has a 2% margin of error.
“Our survey shows that Americans are firmly resolved, as President Reagan was, that the United States has an obligation to fiercely protect our nation and freedom in the world,” Reagan Institute Director Roger Zakheim said in a statement.
The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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Micaela Burrow is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “U.S. Army” by U.S. Army.