What Does the Military Think of Obama? Not Much
Fifteen percent approval, 55 percent disapproval. They despise him:
In his first term, President Obama oversaw repeal of the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Then he broke with one of the military's most deeply rooted traditions and vowed to lift the ban on women serving in combat. And the commander in chief has aggressively sought to change military culture by cracking down on sexual assault and sexual harassment, problems that for years were underreported or overlooked.
Obama is an unpopular president in the eyes of the men and women in uniform. Yet his two-term administration is etching a deep imprint on the culture inside the armed forces. As commander in chief, he will leave behind a legacy that will shape the Pentagon's personnel policies and the social customs of rank-and-file troops for decades to come.
For Obama's supporters, the cultural changes he's overseeing are on a level with President Truman's 1948 order that desegregated the military and put it at the forefront of the national push for racial equality. But to his critics, his moves amount to heavy-handed social engineering that erode deep-seated traditions and potentially undermine good order and discipline.
According to a Military Times survey of almost 2,300 active-duty service members, Obama's popularity — never high to begin with — has crumbled, falling from 35 percent in 2009 to just 15 percent this year, while his disapproval ratings have increased to 55 percent from 40 percent over that time.
You just knew that our first hard-Leftist commander in chief would muck about with the military as much as possible. And the changes appear to be having the desired effect on the folks who collect their paychecks from Washington:
But despite their misgivings about him personally, evidence suggests some quiet acceptance, and even support, for his policy changes. The greatest cultural shift under Obama may well be the swiftly-growing acceptance of homosexuality in the ranks following the official change in law that took effect in September 2011.
A Military Times poll in 2009 found 35 percent of troops felt that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve in uniform. Five years later, that figure has jumped to 60 percent. Similarly, open opposition to homosexuality in the military has collapsed. In 2009, 49 percent of troops felt gays, lesbians and bisexuals should not be allowed to serve. In 2014, such disapproval fell to just 19 percent. It is "the biggest change in the military's culture that happened on [Obama's] watch," said Richard Kohn, professor emeritus of history and peace, war and defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
There's much more, including attitudes toward women in combat, the "pervasive problem of sexual assault in the ranks" (wonder why?), and the souring of the grunts on the GOP, although the troops remain overwhelmingly politically conservative. Be sure to read it all -- and think about who should be the next commander in chief.