TEHRAN (FNA)- To the list of skeptics who question the need for airstrikes against Syria, add an another unlikely group — many US servicemembers.
A Military Times survey of more than 750 active-duty troops this week found servicemembers oppose military action in Syria by a ratio of about three to one.
The survey conducted online Monday and Tuesday found that about 75% of troops are not in favor of airstrikes in response to reports alleging that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to kill its civilians.
A higher percentage of troops, about 80%, say they do not believe getting involved in the 2-year-old civil war is inthe US national interest.
The results suggest that opposition inside the military may be more intense than among the US population at large. About 64% of Americans oppose airstrikes, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Monday.
The Military Times’ results are based on an unscientific survey of Times readers and reflect the views of many career enlisted members and officers.
For many troops, money is a key consideration. Troops question the cost of bombing Syria at a time when budget cuts are shrinking their pay raises, putting their benefits package at risk and forcing some of their friends to separate involuntarily.
“We don’t have money for anything else but we have a couple hundred million dollars to lob some Tomahawks and mount an expensive campaign in Syria?” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Chris Larue, a 39-year-old maintenance expert at Fort Eustis, Va., referring to the precision-guided missiles that are likely to be used in any strike.
The debate about striking Syria is also revealing a strain of isolationism growing inside a battle-weary military that has spent more than a decade supporting high-tempo war operations overseas.
“People are just sick of it,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Harvey, a nuclear-trained officer who works at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.
“It’s like the old pre-World War II isolationism, I hear grumblings of that. People would rather withdraw all our troops and let the rest of the world figure out what to do. I think there is a lot of credence to that argument,” he said.
Many troops have concerns about the strategic logic of striking the Syrian government and implicitly helping therebels, which include some extremist groups linked to militants in Iraq who were killing US troops just a few years ago.
“In my eyes, the rebels in Syria are the same as the insurgents in Iraq,” the staff sergeant from Fort Hood said.
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