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Poll: Most Say Military Not Ready to Face New Threat

Asked to assess the condition of the U.S. military, two in three Americans offer an A or B grade, a new CBS News poll finds. But with wars being fought on two fronts, a majority also say the military is currently spread too thin to respond effectively to another military threat.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans offered an A grade when asked to assess the condition of the military, while 39 percent gave it a B, the largest percentage for any letter.

Twenty-two percent, meanwhile, offered a C grade. Just five percent volunteered a D grade, and even fewer – two percent – gave the condition of the military an F.

Majorities of Democrats and Republicans, as well as women and men, offered an A or B grade.

Yet after more than eight years of war, most Americans say the military is spread too thin to deal effectively with a new threat. Just one in three say the military is adequately prepared to respond to a new threat, while 56 percent say it is not.

They also say the U.S. is not doing enough for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed say the government has fallen short when it comes to addressing the needs and problems of troops returning from those conflicts. Just 22 percent say the government is doing enough.

Americans have a more positive outlook when it comes to the question of whether the government is giving troops enough resources and military equipment to succeed in battle, but there is significant skepticism.

One in two Americans say the U.S. is giving troops sufficient resources and equipment, while 37 percent say it is not doing so. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say the government is providing adequate resources and equipment.

The poll also found that the vast majority of Americans oppose a return to a military draft. Just one in five say they favor a return to the draft, while 76 percent say they oppose it.

In Gallup polling from February of 1980, 59 percent favored a return to the draft. But that percentage fell to 25 percent by 1985 and stood at 18 percent in 2007.

While majorities of Americans in every category oppose a return to the draft, the groups most likely to favor a draft were men and older Americans.

The poll was taken as part of CBS News' "Where America Stands" series, an in-depth look at where the country stands today on key topics and an outlook for the future decade.

See More Stories and Videos from the Series: Where America Stands
Read the Complete Poll

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,048 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone December 17-22, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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