The U.S. military’s reputation appears to be in free fall as a new survey suggests half of Americans do not have enough confidence in the military, an institution that once basked in high public esteem.

The latest national defense survey by the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute shows just 45 percent of Americans have a “great deal of trust and confidence” in the armed forces, down 25 percent in the past three years. “Increasing number of Americans say they have little or not much confidence in the military, which is up 15 points in the last three years,” the institute said in a statement.

The trust in the U.S. military has dropped 11 points in just the past nine months, under President Joe Biden.

The slide from the February poll— when 56 percent of respondents expressed strong trust in the military—may have been exacerbated by the actions of military leaders in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on Capitol Hill and more recently the messy pullout from Afghanistan.


Among those who reported little or no confidence in the U.S. military, the most common reason cited was “political leadership,” while respondents who held the institution in high esteem were most influenced by their admiration for the rank-and-file service members.

The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, during which 13 U.S. service members were killed, infuriated the public. A majority of Americans, 62 percent, said they disapprove of how the pullout was handled.

The survey found that just 42 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in the U.S. military’s ability to win an overseas war. Similarly, 40 percent of those surveyed said they strongly trust that the military will act in a “professional and nonpolitical manner.”

Nearly one-third of respondents said the United States resorts to the use of military force too often and in situations where diplomacy would work better.

The military is not the only public institution suffering a bad reputation in the United States.

The survey found that only 19 percent of Americans have strong trust in the presidency as of November—down from 30 percent in February.

Public confidence in law enforcement agencies has plunged to 33 percent from 50 percent in the past three years. The tenure of former U.S. President Donald Trump was the main undoing.

Media outlets, which have historically scored low points in public confidence, have slid even further down the curve, with a stunning 10 percent of Americans expressing great trust in them. (