Military Officers Want More Diplomacy And Development Assistance
Here's a sneak preview of a poll of 606 commissioned U.S. military officers conducted for the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, which holds a conference on national security in DC tomorrow.
## A significant majority of the officers recognize the need for non-military tools and diplomacy.
## They see the top national security threat by far as terrorism and Islamic extremism; what's missing from our policy, they say, is (a) more diplomacy and (b) long-term investments in the Muslim world. In the words of Dem pollster Geoff Garin and GOP pollster Bill McInturff, " a significant majority of officers surveyed embrace a new paradigm in which strengthened diplomacy and development assistance are important companions to traditional military tools for achieving America's national security goals."
## More than half say the US is doing too little to strengthen these non-military tools -- about the same percentage as those who say the U.S. isn't doing enough to strengthen military capabilities.
## 77% say that the degree to which American is respected overseas makes at least a fair amount of difference to the effectiveness of the military overseas.
The audience is fairly strongly Republican, and they're very likely to vote -- 86% certain.
McInturff polls for Sen. John McCain, which is one of the reasons why the survey should be of interest.
How do we know that the 606 surveyed are representative of the demographics of the military?
Spokesman Jeff Berkowitz (himself a former state department official) said they checked their data against DoD figures for ranks across service and years of service and came out confident that they've gotten a good sample. Most of the respondents were interviewed online; others were interviewed via the telephone. 107 of the officers retired after the 9/11 attacks; the rest are on active duty.
Read the full memo after the jump.
On behalf of the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, the bipartisan polling team of Peter
D. Hart Research Associates (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R) recently conducted a
survey among 606 commissioned U.S. military officers, including 499 active duty officers
and 107 officers who retired after the 9/11/2001 attacks. The survey was conducted from
June 24 to 30, 2008, and included a combination of telephone and Internet interviews.
This memorandum highlights a few of the most notable findings that emerge from this
unique and compelling survey, which explored officers’ attitudes toward the United States’
use of military and non-military tools to enhance our national security.
Summary of Findings:
Today’s military officers believe we face very different security challenges than we did
during the Cold War and must use different tools and strategies to address those
A significant majority of officers surveyed embrace a new paradigm in which
strengthened diplomacy and development assistance are important companions to
traditional military tools for achieving America's national security goals.
A majority of officers serving in the post-9/11 era have seen the benefit of non-military
tools such as development assistance and diplomacy firsthand, particularly those
deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
These poll results suggest the next Commander in Chief must understand that a strong
military alone is not enough to protect America and that military officers believe we
must also improve diplomatic relations and do more to promote stability in the world
by improving health, education, and economic opportunity in other countries.
Key Results by the Numbers:
Eighty percent (80%) of all officers surveyed say that non-military tools such as
diplomacy, food aid, and support for health, education, and economic development
programs are very (43%) or fairly important (37%) to helping the United States
achieve its national security objectives.
Eighty-four percent (84%) of officers say that strengthening non-military tools such as
diplomacy and development efforts should be at least equal to strengthening military
efforts when it comes to improving America’s ability to address threats to our national
Similarly, officers are nearly as likely to say the United States is doing too little to
strengthen its use of non-military tools (52%) as to say we are doing too little to
strengthen our military capabilities (57%).
Active duty officers are as likely to say that we are doing too little to strengthen
and improve our use of non-military national security tools (54%) as they are to
say we are doing too little strengthen and improve our use of military tools (55%);
59% of the highest-ranking officers say that we are doing too little to strengthen
and improve our use of non-military tools.
Eighty-two percent (82%) say the tools and strategies needed to deal with our current
national security challenges are different from the tools and strategies we used
successfully during the Cold War, including 52% who say we need to be using very
different tools today.
The national security threats most frequently volunteered as very important were
Terrorism (41%) and Islamic extremism/Al Qaeda (14%).
In evaluating steps the United States could take to achieve our strategic goals and
improve national security, officers in our survey rank “strengthening our diplomatic
efforts and cooperation with other countries” (83% very/fairly high priority) on par
with “increasing counter-insurgency training for our troops” (87%) and “improving our
military’s rapid response capabilities” (81%).
Eighty-eight percent (88%) of all officers surveyed agree that “a strong military alone
is not enough to protect America; we also need to improve diplomatic relations and do
more to promote stability in the world by improving health, education, and economic
opportunity in other countries,” including 50% who strongly agree with this statement.
Eighty-six percent (86%) of the highest-ranking officers (O-4 and higher) also agree
that, “even though we are the world’s only super power, we can’t do everything on our
own; expanding our commitment to diplomacy and increasing foreign assistance is a
cost-effective way to improve America’s image and win more friends and allies” (46%
Sixty-three percent (63%) of all officers surveyed say they have personally
experienced the benefit of non-military tools in making their military assignments more
effective or more efficient, including 72% of those who have served in Iraq or
Seventy-seven percent (77%) of officers surveyed believe that the degree to which
America is respected by people overseas makes a great deal (44%) or a fair amount
(33%) of difference to the effectiveness of our military overseas.
Just 8% say that we are very well respected by people in other countries today,
while 52% say we are somewhat well respected and 40% say we are not that well
A 62% majority of officers surveyed rate “restoring respect for America around the
world by playing a positive leadership role in addressing major global challenges” as a
very important goal (a rating of eight to 10 on a one-to-10 scale), only slightly below
the proportion (70%) who rate “dealing forcefully with countries that threaten our
security interests or that support terrorist organizations” as a very important goal.