White nationalists pose a greater threat to national security than Islamic terrorists, U.S. troops say.
In a Military Times survey of 1,131 active-duty soldiers after the white-supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, 30 percent ranked white nationalists as a more significant danger to U.S. security than the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Those ranked second and third with 27 percent and 17 percent respectively.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate groups in the U.S. grew 17 percent from 2014 to 2016.
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In the Charlottesville incident, white nationalists marched to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. One woman was killed when a neo-Nazi rammed a crowd of counterprotestors with his car. In the poll, 60 percent of respondents said they supported calling in the National Guard to control similar demonstrations.
Also in the poll: 42 percent of nonwhite servicemembers said they had witnessed white nationalists in American military. Only 19 percent of white servicemembers said the same. Respondents were 76 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, 9 percent African-American, 2 percent Asian and 5 percent of other ethnicities.
Another Military Times poll this week found that President Trump has higher approval ratings among the military than the public at large, but not by much: 44 percent of troops surveyed have a favorable view of Trump, with 40 percent unfavorable. Trump's approval ratings have been hovering in the mid-to-high-30s among the general public.
And the same poll found that a majority of military officers oppose Trump: 53 percent said they had an unfavorable view of the president.
One Navy lieutenant told Military Times that Trump's actions in office were distracting. The Trump White House “seems extremely reactionary, verging on whimsical, when it comes to matters of international politics,” he said. “They are also creating unnecessary division domestically and revisiting political battles that have already been settled and accepted, such as reinstating the transgender military ban. It causes so much upheaval, stress and wasted resources, and has a real impact on morale at the deckplate level.”