majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the
U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly
one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le
Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.
The poll, conducted in
conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global
Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various
branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq
“immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the
next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between
six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as
they are needed.”
Different branches had quite different sentiments on the
question, the poll shows. While 89% of reserves and 82% of those
in the National Guard said the U.S. should leave Iraq within a
year, 58% of Marines think so. Seven in ten of those in the
regular Army thought the U.S. should leave Iraq in the next
year. Moreover, about three-quarters of those in National Guard
and Reserve units favor withdrawal within six months, just 15%
of Marines felt that way. About half of those in the regular
Army favored withdrawal from Iraq in the next six months.
troops have drawn different conclusions about fellow citizens
back home. Asked why they think some Americans favor rapid U.S.
troop withdrawal from Iraq, 37% of troops serving there said
those Americans are unpatriotic, while 20% believe people back
home don’t believe a continued occupation will work. Another 16%
said they believe those favoring a quick withdrawal do so
because they oppose the use of the military in a pre-emptive
war, while 15% said they do not believe those Americans
understand the need for the U.S. troops in Iraq.
wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in
country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds,
while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them,
that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure.
While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for
Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe
the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from
protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”
“Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass
destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there,” said
Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International.
“Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the
minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove
Saddam Hussein.” Just 24% said that “establishing a democracy
that can be a model for the Arab World" was the main or a major
reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there
as securing oil supplies (11%) or to provide long-term bases for
US troops in the region (6%).
continuing insurgent attacks have not turned U.S. troops against
the Iraqi population, the survey shows. More than 80% said they
did not hold a negative view of Iraqis because of those attacks.
About two in five see the insurgency as being comprised of
discontented Sunnis with very few non-Iraqi helpers. “There
appears to be confusion on this,” Zogby said. But, he noted,
less than a third think that if non-Iraqi terrorists could be
prevented from crossing the border into Iraq, the insurgency
would end. A majority of troops (53%) said the U.S. should
double both the number of troops and bombing missions in order
to control the insurgency.
survey shows that most U.S. military personnel in-country have a
clear sense of right and wrong when it comes to using banned
weapons against the enemy, and in interrogation of prisoners.
Four in five said they oppose the use of such internationally
banned weapons as napalm and white phosphorous. And, even as
more photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq surface around the world,
55% said it is not appropriate or standard military conduct to
use harsh and threatening methods against insurgent prisoners in
order to gain information of military value.
Three quarters of
the troops had served multiple tours and had a longer exposure
to the conflict: 26% were on their first tour of duty, 45% were
on their second tour, and 29% were in Iraq for a third time or
A majority of the
troops serving in Iraq said they were satisfied with the war
provisions from Washington. Just 30% of troops said they think
the Department of Defense has failed to provide adequate troop
protections, such as body armor, munitions, and armor plating
for vehicles like HumVees. Only 35% said basic civil
infrastructure in Iraq, including roads, electricity, water
service, and health care, has not improved over the past year.
Three of every four were male respondents, with 63% under the
age of 30.
survey included 944 military respondents interviewed at several
undisclosed locations throughout Iraq. The names of the specific
locations and specific personnel who conducted the survey are
being withheld for security purposes. Surveys were conducted
face-to-face using random sampling techniques. The margin of
error for the survey, conducted Jan. 18 through Feb. 14, 2006,
is +/- 3.3 percentage points.