U.S. leadership is causing plummeting trust in the military, argued one retired Navy SEAL as polls show American confidence in the armed forces is at its lowest point in more than two decades.
“If there is a lack of confidence in the military, I assure you it’s not in the technical and tactical proficiency of the military,” Mike Sarraille told Fox News. “It’s because of the leaders and the programs or policies that they’re trying to enact that just disrupt the military from focusing on their core mission.”
In a recent Gallup poll, only 60% of Americans said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the U.S. military. That’s the lowest it’s been since 1997, according to Gallup.
The numbers are part of larger polling showing decreases in confidence in many American institutions, including education, the medical system and government.
Sarraille, a retired Navy SEAL and former Recon Marine, serves as founder and CEO of Talent War Group. He blamed much of the decline in confidence on “woke policies” and the COVID-19 vaccine mandate that forced more than 8,400 troops out of the military.
“Any great organization, that leadership starts at the top,” he said. “They’re setting the example for everyone else to follow. We don’t have that in the current administration.”
But patriotism also has a “shelf life,” Sarraille said, creating natural dips in confidence.
The Gulf War sparked an unprecedented — but brief — surge in 1991, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks “ushered in an era of elevated confidence lasting nearly two decades,” according to Gallup.
“Confidence in the military is high when we’re in a time of war. There is a sense of pride,” Sarraille said. “As conflicts end, people’s confidence in the military wanes because they’re not hearing it in the news as much.”
Republicans have generally expressed the most trust in the military, polling shows, but that rate plunged from 91% in 2020 to 68% this year. Independents also lost confidence in the military during the same timeframe. And while Democratic confidence rates spiked after President Biden took office, they fell again this year.
Sarraille said confidence in the military and the ongoing recruiting crisis are inextricably tied.
“For a young American that is considering going into the military, if the overall public confidence in the military is low, that’s going to affect recruiting,” he said.
But Sarraille, who enlisted in 1998 just after the last confidence low point, said the military is still a good option for young men and women.
“It’s a great place to feel a sense of homecoming and belonging,” he said. “To challenge yourself, to become a better leader, to become a better human being.”
He encouraged those who serve to use their G.I. Bill benefits to get an education and apply their skills in the private sector.
“Military produces leaders. That’s what we do,” Sarraille said. “It is a springboard for people to be successful.”