Armed Forces / Conclusions


High public esteem for the Armed Forces is, as we have seen, in considerable contrast to the opposition that many people express towards the 2003-2009 deployment of troops in Iraq and, to a lesser degree, the continuing mission in Afghanistan. Given the extent of people's objections to these military campaigns, a striking feature of our survey findings is the public's overwhelming support for the Armed Service personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. This subtlety in public thinking and opinion about the Armed Forces and their deployment in specific military operations has not been sufficiently acknowledged previously. People clearly find little difficulty in separating the politics of military deployments from attitudes towards the service men and women who take part in them. It remains to be seen what effect the final withdrawal of military personnel from active operations in Afghanistan, due in 2014, will have on public opinion. Yet it seems highly probable from our survey findings that Armed Service personnel will be warmly welcomed home by most of the public, no matter what people think of the mission they have been asked to fulfil.

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  1. See
  2. A police estimate of numbers. Protest organisers suggested a figure nearer two million. See
  3. 'Armed Forces Covenant recognised in law for first time', Ministry of Defence, Defence News, 3rd November, 2011, available at
  4. A report by the former Liberal Democrat leader and career soldier Lord Ashcroft (2012) recently cast some light on public attitudes towards the Armed Forces, but owing to its sampling strategy the findings were not necessarily representative of the UK population as a whole.
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