Flag draped transfer cases with the remains of American soldiers repatriated
from North Korea are seen during a repatriation ceremony after arriving to Joint
Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 1, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Nearly half of all the current US military troops on active duty believe they will be fighting a major war with Russia or China soon, an alarming increase in war anxiety among American soldiers, a new poll has found.
The Military Times poll of active-duty troops, released Wednesday, showed that 46 percent of US soldiers expected a war within the next year.
That's a huge increase from September 2017, when only about 5 percent held the same view in a similar poll.
This is while 50 percent of participants in the survey thought a major conflict in 2019 was unlikely. That number is falling as last year over two-thirds of the soldiers said a war was not going to take place.
The anxious anticipation of war comes amid President Donald Trump’s repeated calls for improving military readiness in the face of growing threats from foreign adversaries, such as terrorist groups and traditional major power rivals like Russia and China.
The Pentagon has publicly warned about the need to stay prepared for a conflict against a "near-peer" adversary.
That adversary could very well be Russia, as indicated in Trump’s revised nuclear strategy earlier this year. China is also likely to be viewed as a threat amid growing tensions between the two sides over a range of issues, from trade to Washington’s disregard for China’s sovereignty claims over the South China Sea.
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When asked what specific countries they viewed as most serious threats, US troops named Russia and China among their top concerns: Some 71 percent said Russia was a significant threat, up 18 points from last year. About 69 percent of troops said China posed a significant threat, up 24 points from 2017.
The biggest drop in this year's list of potentially threatening countries belonged to North Korea, which was seen as a significant threat by only 46 percent. The figure stood at more than 72 percent one year ago.
Nearly 89 percent named Cyber-terrorism as the top threat while many troops said they were worried about their country’s lack of readiness to face such threats.