A recent Military Times poll shows Marines are big fans of President Donald Trump, his Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and are more supporting of increasing America’s military footprint in hot spots across the globe than its sister services.
Nearly 66 percent of Marines hold at least a favorable view of the president, according to a Military Times poll conducted between September and October. Across all the services, however, Trump only gains a 44 percent favorability view, a drop from a 46 percent high since the president was elected in 2016.
But Trump’s secretary of defense garners the greatest love by his fellow Marines, with a whopping nearly 97 percent favorability view.
The Air Force held the second highest positive view of Mattis, at nearly 88 percent.
According to the data, Marines generally are more supportive than the other services of increasing America’s footprint in counterinsurgency conflicts across the globe and hot spots with other near-peer rivals.
In Afghanistan for instance, nearly 40 percent of Marines believe the U.S. should increase its involvement there. Among the other U.S. military branches that support doesn’t rise above 24 percent.
The Air Force held the lowest percentage of respondents who believed the U.S. should increase its footprint in the nearly 17-year conflict at just 8 percent.
The Corps’ poll results are like a scene out of the “Conan the Barbarian” movie.
In the 1982 hit, Conan is asked “What is best in life?” He says: “To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.”
Current and former Marines who spoke to Marine Corps Times on condition of anonymity say the poll results are not surprising, especially the glowing numbers for Mattis.
The former commander of the 1st Marine Division who spearheaded the Corps’ drive through Iraq in 2003 holds a nearly otherworldly view among his fellow Marines, some who even refer to him as Saint Mattis.
The viral image of Mattis clothed like a medieval saint was created by former Marine officer Shawn Wylde, who now runs a popular military and patriotic-themed clothing company.
Some Marines also see the current secretary of defense as a quasi-restrainer in chief for a president some view as brash and vociferous on major foreign policy issues.
“Mattis of course is look up to. Not just because of his close history of being a ‘Marines’, Marine’ but his ability to look analytically at situations and showing restraint when needed,” one staff sergeant and combat engineer told Marine Corps Times.
“Mattis: He is the internal checks and balances to the executive branch,” a former Marine special operator said. The cabinet is set up with people who the president needs to trust, not necessarily agree with, but understand that sometimes even as the leader of the free world, even Batman needed other people to be an effective fighter, ergo it is the President’s responsibility to trust the counsel of his cabinet.”
While Mattis garners near universal appeal among Marines, the same is not necessarily true for his boss who has some mixed reviews.
“Everything Trump has done has been a mess. We’ve alienated most of our allies and imprisoned children,” a former female Marine and intelligence analyst said.
But Trump’s appeal to the military is still strong, especially among Marines who see the commander in chief as a champion on military and veterans’ issues.
One combat engineer said Trump has done some things well like “the focus on long-term care of veterans, understanding that military members shouldn’t be expendable, ensuring military members have what they need to complete a job.”
“I think he’s [Trump] not following with the talk softly but carry a big stick mentality. He talks too much and needs to keep the cards close to the chest. I think that he has shown he’s not afraid to challenge world leaders when they step out of line,” the engineer added.
When it comes to U.S. overseas interventions, Marines are generally more supportive of a heavier handed policy, with higher approvals than the other services in increasing military interventions in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and Europe.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.