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Sunday, December 31, 2006 | 10:32 AM

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In a previous post I mentioned how Secretary of Defense Robert Gates went to Iraq and spoke to approximately 15 US troops who all agreed that George W. Bush's idea of sending more troops to Iraq was a good idea. Of course this was a "select" number of troops. It was reported by many US media outlets that this was an endorsement of the president-select's "surge" policy. Well the Military Times has made a detailed study that effectively refutes that fallacious claim. – Only 35 percent said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved.

– 50 percent believe success in Iraq is likely, down from 83 percent in 2004.

– 38 percent believe the United States should send more troops to Iraq. 39 percent believe we should maintain current levels or reduce the number of troops, including 13 percent who support complete withdrawal.

– 72 percent believe the military is “stretched too thin to be effective.”

– 47 percent disagree with President Bush’s mantra that the war in Iraq is part of the war against terrorism, while the same percentage agree.

– Only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population today — 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.

– 52 percent approve of the overall job President Bush is doing, down from 71 percent in 2004.

– 63 percent say the senior military leadership has the best interests of the troops at heart. That number is lower from President Bush (48 percent) and lower still for civilian military leadership (32 percent) and Congress (23 percent).

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