President Barack Obama will step down after eight years as commander in chief with one of the most influential tenures leading the U.S. military, but not necessarily the political support of service members.
His moves to slim down the armed forces, move away from traditional military might and overhaul social policies prohibiting the service of minority groups have proven divisive in the ranks. His critics have accused him of trading a strong security posture for political points, and for allowing the rise of terrorists like the Islamic State group whom the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were supposed to silence.
But Obama’s supporters define him as the Nobel Peace Prize winner who ordered the elimination of Osama bin Laden and refocused military strategy while wrestling with an uncooperative Congress and unprecedented budget restrictions. They insist the military is more nimble now, and more prepared to deal with unconventional warfare against non-traditional threats across the globe.
More than half of troops surveyed in the latest Military Times/Institute for Veterans and Military Families poll said they have an unfavorable opinion of Obama and his two-terms leading the military. About 36 percent said they approve of his job as commander in chief.
Their complaints include the president’s decision to decrease military personnel (71 percent think it should be higher), his moves to withdraw combat troops from Iraq (59 percent say it made America less safe) and his lack of focus on the biggest dangers facing America (64 percent say China represents a significant threat to the U.S.)
But more than two-thirds support Obama’s mantra that securing America means building strong alliances with foreign powers. And more than 60 percent think his use of drones and special forces teams for precision strikes — instead of large-scale military operations — has helped U.S. national security.
That’s a conflicted response to a president who entered the White House vowing to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan but instead leaves as the first American president to oversee two full terms with combat troops deployed to hostile zones.
Read the rest at: Military Times