DoD Workers Want More of Everything In Fight Against ISIS, Except Ground Troops

Iraqi anti-terrorism soldiers guard a graduation ceremony of Sunni tribal volunteers joining Iraqi security forces in the town of Amiriyat al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 8, 2015.

Hadi Mizban/AP

AA Font size + Print

Iraqi anti-terrorism soldiers guard a graduation ceremony of Sunni tribal volunteers joining Iraqi security forces in the town of Amiriyat al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 8, 2015.

Defense One/GBC Poll finds frustration but little appetite for boots on the ground.

The paradox of ISIS war frustrations is starkly revealed in a new poll of senior national security workers who want to do more of everything the Obama administration is already doing to defeat the terrorist organization, except send U.S. troops.

A vast majority of respondents — mostly senior Defense Department workers and some U.S. troops — say “not enough” is being done to defeat the Islamic State, or ISIS. But only one-third supported sending additional U.S. ground troops to do anything about it, according to a new Defense One/GBC survey.

The results of the poll, conducted May 7, shows that respondents are increasingly frustrated with the war in Iraq and Syria, but also that they reject the kind of U.S. military intervention whose support is rising among the broader American public.

Only 16 percent agreed that U.S.-led campaign against ISIS is doing enough to defeat that organization, but just 31 percent backed putting more “boots on the ground.”

In the past week, the war has delivered a victory and a loss. U.S. Army special operations forces entered Syria, killed a dozen enemy fighters including the purported head of finances for ISIS, captured his wife and a trove of intelligence information, and freed a captive Iraqi woman. But by Monday, ISIS fighters had captured Ramadi, the Iraqi city in Anbar province where thousands of U.S. troops fought and many died.

Obama administration critics have pounced on the fall of Ramadi, saying the president has not taken ISIS seriously enough and needs intervene more forcefully in Iraq.

For DoD workers, however, it’s not a question of whether ISIS is a threat; it’s what to do about it next. Of the survey respondents, 88 percent agree that ISIS presents an imminent threat to the United States. More than half of all respondents “strongly agree.”

When asked what else the U.S. should do to counter ISIS, the leading responses are actions the Obama administration already is taking. The top answers, and respondents were allowed to chose more than one, were: “pressure allies to take on more of the fight,” 69%; “increase airstrikes,” 52%; “increase military assistance to regional allies,” 51%; “amplify messaging to counter ISIS propaganda,” 49%; and “create and enforce a no-fly zone over Syria,” 34%. The option for putting more boots on the ground came in dead last.

Government Business Council, a division of Atlantic Media, the parent company of Defense One, polled a random sample of print and online subscribers to Government Executive, Nextgov, and Defense One. On May 7, 477 personnel representing the Defense Department and military service branches completed the survey, including those at the GS/GM-11 to 15 grade levels, active duty military personnel, and members of the Senior Executive Service. Of those respondents, 70 percent are ranked GS/GM-12 or military equivalent and above, 97 percent are Defense Department civilians, and 3 percent are active-duty military personnel.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.