A new poll set to be released Thursday shows that two-thirds of American veterans and a majority of military families support ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing all U.S. troops home.
The poll, from Concerned Veterans for America/YouGov and obtained exclusively in advance by Breitbart News, shows that 67 percent of veterans would support the president withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan, and 68 percent would support withdrawing all troops from Iraq.
A broad majority of military households would also support withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan (59 percent) and from Iraq (61 percent).
Fifty-four percent of the general public are also in support of withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan, and 53 percent support withdrawing all troops from Iraq.
The poll was conducted between December 22 through January 6 and came after President Donald Trump announced in mid-November he was reducing the U.S. troop presence to 2,500 in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
CVA Executive Director Nate Anderson told Breitbart News in an interview that one of the things that immediately jumps out from the polling is the increase of support around individuals who support a full withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq from previous years.
“The change in opinion over the past couple of years is pretty significant,” he said.
The U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan is slated to go down to zero by May if the Taliban adheres to a peace agreement brokered by the U.S., but the agreement’s future is unclear under the incoming Biden administration.
President-elect Joe Biden has said he favors keeping “a small footprint” in Afghanistan of “several thousand people.” The poll shows he will have to make an argument as to why he wants a continued U.S. presence.
“On foreign policy, they are going to be immediately faced with a decision point — as per the U.S.-Taliban agreement in Doha, where we’re looking at a drawdown deadline early this spring, and so they need to decide if that’s something they’re going to keep faith with,” Anderson said.
“And the public’s opinion around our continued involvement after 20 years in Afghanistan is no secret at this point,” he added. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen if they decide that a presence and involvement in Afghanistan or Iraq is going to continue … they have to make a very strong compelling case if they decide if that was the best thing for the administration to pursue.”
The poll also showed there was a plurality of support from veterans, military families, and the general population for a more diplomatic versus a military approach to Iran. That could be good news for the Biden administration, which wants to reduce tensions with Iran.
The poll also found that veterans and military households see access to health care as their top concern and support being able to use VA health care benefits outside of the VA system, as was allowed under the VA MISSION Act. A large majority — 87 percent — supported being able to do so, even if it cost a little more out of pocket.
“Nine out of 10 veterans feel that they want healthcare choice from the VA. That’s something that’s consistent over the past several years,” he said. “Add to that the fact that health care was one of the most important issues when polled to this community.”
Vast majorities of the veteran, military household, and general population polled also saw federal government spending of taxpayer dollars and the $27 trillion dollar debt as a threat to national security.
In regard to defense spending, majorities in all camps thought it should be decreased or kept about the same.
“The incoming Congress and the executive administration are going to have to make some significant decisions that will also carry significant implications, not just for the veteran community but for the whole country and that’s why it’s important to look at these opinions, because these are the people who are most deeply affected by these issues and that’s a good indicator for policy makers as they make decisions,” Anderson said.