Most Americans don't think the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were worth it — including the vets who fought in them

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Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 274 prepare to perform casualty evacuation drills during a training operation at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, North Carolina, March 9, 2017

(U.S. Marine Corps/ Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Brosilow)

American veterans may be proud of their service, but they sure as hell aren't proud of the conflicts in which they served.


A new analysis of two polls of more than 2,300 U.S. military veterans conducted by the Pew Research Center indicates that a majority of vets do not consider the wars in Iraq (64%) and Afghanistan (58%) worth fighting "considering the costs versus the benefits." The same goes for U.S. military involvement in Syria, which 55% of veterans surveyed say has not been worthwhile.

For all three conflicts, these views "do not differ based on rank or combat experience," according to Pew.

(Pew Research Center)

This attitude among vets is mirrored closely among civilians: 62% of Americans overall don't believe the Iraq War was worth, while 59% said the same about the war in Afghanistan and 58% said the same about the conflict in Syria.

As with their views on President Donald Trump's performance as commander-in-chief, doubts about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan among vets fall along relatively partisan lines. Vets who identify as Republicans are more likely to see the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as worth it (45% and 46%, respectively) compared to Democratic-leaning vets (15% and 26%).

Since 9/11, the United States has spent roughly $5.9 trillion on military operations as part of the Global War on Terror, according to recent Brown University analysis, with roughly 7,500 military personnel killed.

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Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.

In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.

A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.

The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.

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