630 KHOW-AM co-host Dan Caplis dubiously claimed during the February 26 broadcast of his show that U.S. troops serving in Iraq "overwhelmingly support" the mission there. A recent Military Times poll found that less than half of those surveyed approve of President Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq and believe that the U.S. should have gone to war in the first place.
On the February 26 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show, co-host Dan Caplis dubiously suggested that the war in Iraq enjoys "the overwhelming support among the men and women risking their lives for this mission." In fact, recent polling by the Military Times Media Group showed that only 35 percent of service members polled support the way President Bush is "handling the situation with Iraq," and only 41 percent responded that the United States should have gone to war at all -- results Military Times said show the military "has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory."
Caplis made his assertion while discussing with co-host Craig Silverman the absence of any message in support of the troops during the February 25 broadcast of the Academy Awards.
From the February 26 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show:
SILVERMAN: I wouldn't have minded a mention of the troops. That wouldn't have bothered me. I don't know where it would have fit in exactly, and it might have seemed hypocritical. But I -- I, I support the troops. I think it's -- it's great. Although I did watch 60 Minutes last night where they featured some members of the troops who are disenchanted with what's going on in Iraq.
CAPLIS: Well, I tell you, you know, when you have a hundred and thirty, -forty, -fifty, -sixty thousand people in the field, you're going to be able to find a handful. But where's that 60 Minutes show showing the overwhelming support among the men and women risking their lives for this mission, the people who know it best and know whether it can work or not? But we don't hear that from them.
A December 29, 2006, Military Times report about the latest iteration of its annual poll of active-duty military subscribers to Military Times newspapers, conducted November 13 to December 22, 2006, casts doubt on Caplis' claim that an "overwhelming" number of troops serving in the Iraq war support the mission. As senior managing editor Robert Hodierne wrote regarding the poll:
The American military -- once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war -- has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory.
For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president's handling of the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll.
When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war -- in 2004 -- 83 percent of poll respondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number has shrunk to 50 percent.
Although the poll did not focus exclusively on military personnel who have served in the Iraq war, half of the respondents reported that they had. Military Times also qualified its results, noting that they "should not be read as representative of the military as a whole" because "the survey's respondents are on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military population."
Even with these qualifications, the poll results suggest that Caplis' claim of "overwhelming support" for the war among troops is inaccurate. Question 10 of the poll found that only 35 percent of respondents approve "of the way George W. Bush is handling the situation with Iraq." In Question 6, 41 percent answered "yes" to the question, "Should the U.S. have gone to war in Iraq?" As Hodierne's article noted:
Just as telling, in this year's poll only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population today -- 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.
The poll has come to be viewed by some as a barometer of the professional career military. It is the only independent poll done on an annual basis. The margin of error on this year's poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.