Americans Are Fed Up With Woke Military Leadership: Poll Shows Less Than 50% Now Trust

U.S. Department of Defense, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I recently hit my one-year military retirement anniversary, which has me ruminating on my past life in the Air Force and my feelings on the military overall.

While I am proud of my time in uniform and acknowledge that I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without my 20 years of dedicated service to my country, a fair part of me hopes my children don’t follow in my footsteps.

I never thought I’d be that type of American who hopes their kids don’t join the military; I always found it offensive when I would hear people say those sorts of things. It always felt as though they were saying their children’s lives were more valuable than mine or that serving their nation was beneath them.

Alas, here I am, hoping my kids opt for a different path than the one I took.

Not because I think they are any more special than the next child or think our country isn’t worth serving. But, like many Americans today, I don’t trust the military leaders they would be mandated to answer to.

Trust Fall

The Reagan National Defense Survey recently published this year’s results, and the data is interesting. In 2018, 70% of Americans trusted and had high confidence in the military. In 2021 that number plummeted to 45%, and this year that number only ticked up to 48%. 

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Think about that for a second; less than half of Americans have high confidence in their military to execute its job. For the first time, the survey asked respondents to explain the reason for their lack of confidence, and the breakdown is as follows:

  • 62% – military leadership becoming overly politicized
  • 59% – performance and competence of Presidents as Commander-in-Chief
  • 55% – performance and competence of military-civilian leadership
  • 52% – performance and competence of uniformed military leadership
  • 52% – ability to win a future war
  • 50% – woke practices
  • 47% – performance in Iraq/Afghanistan
  • 46% – far-right extremists

The summary of the report explains the overall symptom of this decrease:

“There was also a decrease in those confident in the military’s ability to act in a professional and nonpolitical manner, from 40% in 2021 to 35%.”

So why should we care about reports like these? Our military is an all-volunteer force, and fewer are willing to raise their right hands.

Thanks, But No Thanks

The military struggled to recruit new members this year, with the Army falling way below their target. As a result, the Reagan National Defense Survey asked 18 to 29-year-old respondents about their willingness to join the military.

Only 13% showed a willingness to join, with the breakdown below:

  • 7% – Don’t know
  • 8% – Depends
  • 26% – Not willing at all
  • 20% – Not very willing
  • 25% – Somewhat willing
  • 7% – Very willing
  • 6% – Extremely willing

Hard to argue those numbers when overall trust in the military has dipped 22 points in the last five years. While technological innovations have made warfighting vastly different than it was in my grandfather’s day and honestly even my day, there is one component that the military will always need to be successful – people.

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You can’t win wars without men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. So what has chased away the future soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardians?

Go Woke, Lose Wars

Last month another report came out, this time from Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chip Roy, titled ‘Woke Warfighters’ that compiles the numerous instances of wokeness that service members have reported to legislators and the media. If you believe former Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, there is “no wokeness” in the military.

But you know better if you are a living, breathing, thinking American. Allow me to list out just a few from memory:

I was still serving during the anti-extremism down day, and I can tell you it was a massive waste of time and resources. Don’t believe me?

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The “Countering Extremist Activity Working Group” found less than 100 individuals across 2.1 million service members engaged in “extremist activity.” That’s roughly .005% of the force, or what I call a witchhunt.

Why Do We Join

Every service member has reasons for joining the military and staying in, as I did. I joined because, like many others, my family couldn’t afford to send me to college, and I wanted to see the world. 

Some join out of a sense of service, others because of family legacy, some because they want specific training like pilots and doctors, and others join to escape their current situation in hopes of something better. It used to be that our different reasons and backgrounds were what made us diverse and strong.

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When I graduated from Basic Military Training 20+ years ago, the feeling I had was the same as my fellow Airmen; I felt like a badass. I made it through basic training and was wearing the uniform of the best damn military in the world.

We all felt that way even though we all looked different. But today, that feeling is not what the military machine wants you to feel. As Senator Rubio explains:

“Rather than making the case for American greatness and protecting our nation, the military is parroting woke nonsense.”

Who wants to represent a country they are told is inherently racist and fundamentally evil? But, more importantly, who wants to die for that same country?


Bearing in mind my background and inherent bias because of that background, there is no greater gift you can give than your service to something larger than yourself. I imagine swearing your oath of service to the military is in the same general arena as those who serve the cloth or practice medicine.

You give all of yourself to that service, which requires you to make it part of your soul. To sacrifice your life for your country, you must believe there is more to it than just the surface details. You must trust that your fellow soldier loves you as unconditionally as you love them, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality.

Big Military has lost its way and probably lost it long before I enlisted as a young punk 18-year-old many, many years ago. We cannot win wars if we teach our warfighters that they are not cut from the same cloth.

I won’t ever tell my kids not to join the military because I believe that if you are called to serve, you must answer that call. But I hope they hear a different calling because it’d be a damn shame to give yourself to a country you are taught to hate for people you are instructed to despise. 

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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