Sunday, October 17, 2004

Troops: Bush Screwed the Pooch in Iraq


By Staff and Wire Reports
Oct 17, 2004, 07:22

A majority of U.S. troops serving in Iraq and their families said the Bush administration did not send enough forces to Iraq and relied too heavily on the National Guard and reserve troops, a poll showed on Saturday.

Almost two-thirds of those surveyed by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, or 65 percent, said they believed President Bush "had underestimated the number of troops needed in Iraq," the poll said.

But while 60 percent said part-time troops were overburdened and the number of regular troops should have been expanded, a larger majority, 74 percent, said they were opposed to reinstating the draft.

Annenberg researchers surveyed 186 troops who were serving on active duty in Iraq between February and October, including full-time, National Guard and reservist forces. If they were not available for polling, a family member was surveyed.

The results were part of a larger survey of 655 troops or their families.
Forty percent of National Guard members and reservists surveyed said they did not have enough training or supplies for their mission in Iraq, compared with 35 percent who said they were adequately prepared, the poll found.

Regular, full-time troops who served in Iraq said they were generally satisfied with their training and equipment, according to the survey.

"The military, without focusing on Bush himself, also has serious doubts about how the war has been managed," said Adam Clymer, political director of the National Annenberg Election Survey.

Despite those doubts, the military generally supports Bush and the efforts in Iraq, the poll showed. But support from those who spent time in Iraq was lower by about 10 percent.

Bush's Democratic challenger, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, has criticized the president's handling of Iraq.

On Friday, Kerry said that he did not support a draft, but Bush's policies had stretched U.S. troops too thinly. Bush said he would not bring back the draft.

Annenberg's survey comes one day after U.S. defense officials said they were investigating a report this week that some U.S. troops refused to take part in a supply convoy in Iraq, where explosive devices have killed dozens of soldiers.

Military officials called the incident involving 19 members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company "isolated," but families of the troops told a U.S. newspaper that security for the truck convoy was lacking.

The poll, conducted from Sept. 22 to Oct. 5, also found the military "overwhelmingly disagreed" with the administration's photo ban of military coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

The Annenberg Center is a research group at the University of Pennsylvania. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. More from Capitol Hill Blue


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