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62% of Americans say military too political; half say too ‘woke’: Poll

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III briefs the media on Afghanistan, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Aug. 18, 2021. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
December 02, 2022

A new poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans feel the U.S. military’s leadership has become too political.

The poll, conducted on behalf of the Reagan National Defense Forum, found that 62 percent of respondents expressed concerned about how politicized the military has become. 34 percent of respondents said they had “a great deal” of concern about the military being politicized and another 28 percent said they had “some” concern.

The feelings that the military had become overly politicized were shared about equally across the political backgrounds of respondents. The concern was shared by 60 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 65 percent of Republicans surveyed.

In the past year, reports have circulated that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley decided to resist President Donald Trump and “fight from the inside” against Trump’s agenda. This fall, the Biden administration also drew attention for posting uniformed U.S. Marines in the background as Biden gave a politically charged speech calling his 2020 political rival Donald Trump and “MAGA forces” a “threat to this country.”

The survey found 50 percent of respondents felt that so-called “woke” practices are undermining their confidence in the U.S. military. The Reagan Foundation said far more Republicans respondents expressed concerns about “wokeness” than Democrat respondents.

Republican lawmakers have repeatedly criticized some of the Biden administration’s diversity efforts in the military. Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) published a report detailing how U.S. military service academies have implemented “Critical Race Theory” in their instruction and a diversity specialist who referred to white women as having “CAUdacity,” a slang term blending the words “Caucasian” and “audacity” to describe the so-called audacity of white people.

Military leaders have repeatedly defended against accusations that the services are “woke” and undermined by these diversity efforts, and have even touted such efforts as key to strengthening the military. Last month, the Biden administration released its new national security strategy, which states “we will strengthen the effectiveness of the force by promoting diversity and inclusion.”

Another 46 percent of respondents in the new survey also said they felt so-called “far right” or extremist individuals decreased their confidence in the military. The survey found concerns about the “far right” and extremism in the military were far more common among Democrat respondents than Republican ones.

Numerous U.S. military veterans and some active service members were among the crowd that entered the U.S. capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as protestors and rioters disrupted the process to certify the 2020 election results for Biden.

Within days of the start of the Biden administration, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s ordered a standdown to discuss extremism within the ranks of the military. The military reportedly expended more than 5,359,000 personnel hours on these standdown discussions on extremism. At the same time, the Biden Administration’s “Countering Extremist Activity Working Group” (CEAWG) found that “cases of prohibited extremist activity among service members were rare,” with only 100 cases among the more than 2.1 million personnel in the active and reserve components of the U.S. military.