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U.S. Troops Oppose Striking Syria, Online Survey Suggests

An online survey of 750 active-duty U.S. troops suggests that opposition to striking Syria is "more intense" among military personnel than among the American public.

Military Times, a publication and newssite owned by Gannett Co. (not the federal government) reports that:

-- "The survey conducted online Monday and Tuesday found that about 75 percent of troops are not in favor of air strikes in response to reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to kill civilians in that country."

-- "A higher percentage of troops, about 80 percent, say they do not believe getting involved in the two-year-old civil war is in the U.S. national interest."

As the newssite points out: "About 64 percent of Americans oppose air strikes, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Monday."

Military Times concedes that its survey is "an unscientific sampling of Military Times readers and reflects the views of many career enlisted members and officers."

But the survey results echo things that Blake Farmer of NPR member station WPLN was told earlier this week when he visited Fort Campbell, Ky.

"Our military is tired," Geri Phillips, an Army mom, told Blake. "We're sick of it. We don't need to be in any more countries."

While "for the men and women in uniform, it's difficult to have a public opinion since the commander-in-chief has spoken," Blake reported, "a few have told me off the record that they hope Congress blocks the White House from going ahead with airstrikes."

Blake's report ended with this:

"I'm afraid this is just the beginning," added Deborah Piercy, who runs a shipping and greeting card shop just off post. Her husband fought in the first Gulf war, and she says Congress needs to consider all the steps before pulling the trigger in Syria.

"We have to show them that we're not afraid to do what we have to do. But I certainly hope they've thought long and hard about it," she says.

Piercy worries a U.S. strike will only prompt retaliation of some sort from Syria.

The Military Times survey was done before President Obama's prime time Tuesday address to the nation in which he made the case that force might be necessary to hold Syrian President Bashar Assad accountable for his alleged use of chemical weapons.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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