Almost half of all active military troops in the US army believe that the US will be part of a large-scale war soon, according to a Military Times poll of the active-duty troops. According to the poll, troops are anxious about global instability in general and about Russia and China in particular.
Close to 46% of the questioned active troops believe that the US will be draw into a large-scale war soon. This number has increased from 5% in September 2017’s survey.
Still, more people think that it is unlikely that there will be war at 50%, however in 2017 that number was 67%. Only 4% of people responded with “I don’t know,” in comparison to that share being 28% in 2017.
These fears are mostly due to media hysteria as well as US President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly emphasizing the importance of improving military readiness against “a growing threat from foreign adversaries, both terrorist groups and traditional major power rivals.”
When they were asked about specific countries, unsurprisingly the top answers were China and Russia. The two countries were the top answers in 2017 as well. However, 71% said Russia is a significant threat, compared to 53% in 2017. For China there was a similar movement, 69% in 2018 and 45% in 2017.
Military Times cited Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, who in 2017 told Marines that he thought there was a “big-ass fight” on the horizon. “I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming,” Neller told Marines in Norway.
Troops also appeared to worry the most about cyber terrorism. Nearly 89% answered that it is the biggest threat the US is facing currently. It was ranked as a higher threat than Russia and China, as well as domestic and non-domestic Islamic terrorists.
Surprisingly, Iran is way down on the threat list, despite US claims that it is the biggest funder of terrorism globally. North Korea is marginally “scarier” than the Islamic Republic.
It is highly likely that the reason behind cyber terrorism’s first place is that in the past several weeks the mainstream media narrative, as well as a lot of rhetoric from officials from the US, the Netherlands and the UK have been focused towards the presumed threat of cyber attacks and espionage from Russia and China.
Iraq and Afghanistan are viewed as less of a threat in 2018, compared to 2017. There has been a steady decrease in the assessment of threat from these two countries. It could be due to troops still being in the countries. It could be due to Iraq having announced the defeat of ISIS in late 2017 and Donald Trump’s previous calls that the US is “winning” against the Taliban.
The Military Times cited one of its respondents, a recruiter claimed that Donald Trump’s handling of the North Korea nuclear weapons issue was risky, however he approved his president going “toe-to-toe” in negotiations. “It was kind of scary, but he had the guts to go over there and stand up for what a lot of Americans are believing in,” the unnamed recruiter said.
Another respondent, a female Army sergeant first class said that it had “never been this bad” due to there being too many adversaries due to Trump’s way of doing business. She is anxious of a “constant conflict” occurring soon, of endless deployments and fighting. “With the way we’re growing our force, I tell my soldiers the reason we are growing the force is because we need you, and we’re going to fight,” she was cited by the Military Times.
Troops were generally supportive of US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who is a former Marine Corps General. They claimed that he would stop some of Trump’s riskier impulses.
In total, 829 respondents were interviewed. The survey audience was 89 percent male and 11 percent female and had an average age of about 31 years old.
In general, this is a worrisome result, as propaganda aimed at the military personnel to keep them battle ready and cause a sort of anxiousness that a conflict is coming is not an uncommon tool. It is used precisely before leaders plan to initiate such a conflict so that the troops are prepared for a large-scale war.
Hopefully, as one of the respondents, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jay Thompson, an Army helicopter pilot at Fort Drum, New York, said “no one is seeking the peer-on-peer war,” regarding his belief that China, the US and Russia do not wish war.