In the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris and shooting massacre in San Bernardino, more Americans than ever before support sending ground troops to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State, according to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press and GfK.
The poll showed that 42% of American now favor sending U.S. soldiers to Iraq and Syria to do battle with ISIS militants, up from just 31% last year. The data showed that "six in 10 Republicans, but only about 3 in 10 Democrats or independents, support sending ground troops," according to the AP.
The poll also suggested that Americans as dissatisfied with the Obama administration's strategy to combat the spread of ISIS in the Middle east, with 56% of Americans saying "the U.S. military response to the Islamic State group has not gone far enough," up from just 46% in last October.
The government has been moving relatively slowly with its deployment of troops to ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria, likely out of concern for falling into another costly multi-year campaign like those waged in Iraq and Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. In November, President Obama deployed 50 U.S. special forces to Syria to coordinate the fight between various contingents of fighters, a supplement to the 3,000 troops still in Iraq.
But with pressure growing from both politicians and the public — and the White House subject to increasing criticism — it's likely that more troops are on their way. "[Special forces] will help us garner valuable ground intelligence, further enhance our air campaign, and above all enable local forces that regain and then hold territory occupied by ISIS," Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told the House Armed Services Committee in November. "Where we find further opportunity to leverage such capability, we are prepared to expand it."
But while even the Pentagon moves thoughtfully and with purpose, Americans are clamoring for action. The number of Americans who thought terrorism was the foremost threat facing the country jumped from 3% in November to 15% in December in the aftermath of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, reflecting increased anxiety over ISIS's new global reach. Americans are now more worried about terrorism than they are mass shootings, despite the fact that the former occurs far more often.
Just ask Carl Ripperton, a 76-year-old National Guard veteran and 'self-professed political independent' polled by the AP. "It's gotta be done," he told the news organization of an intervention in the Middle East. "The bombing doesn't seem to have done anything. I would think if we just went in there and wiped them out that would take care of it. I mean they might pop up again, but at least we'd take care of this group."