MILITARY TIMES POLL…. A couple of days ago, the AP reported on dozens of interviews with soldiers of the Army’s 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, which patrols the streets of eastern Baghdad, and learned that most of those seeing the conflict up close are discouraged, dejected, and ready to leave. As informative as the piece was, it was difficult to extrapolate from it and understand how most U.S. troops feel.

Fortunately, a poll for the Military Times newspapers, which questioned 6,000 randomly selected active-duty members, gives us a much better sense. In case the myth that military personnel still widely support the president’s policy hadn’t been debunked enough, these results should do the trick.

Barely one in three service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, according to the new poll for the four papers (Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Times). In another startling finding, only 41% now feel it was the right idea to go to war in Iraq in the first place.

And the number who feel success there is likely has shrunk from 83% in 2004 to about 50% today. A surprising 13% say there should be no U.S. troops in Iraq at all. […]

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents think today’s military is stretched too thin to be effective.

As for the escalation, only 38% of those surveyed believe more troops should be sent to Iraq, while 39% think there should be the same number or less than there are now. (The rest said they didn’t know.)

On a related note, Greg Sargent mentioned that Defense Secretary Robert Gates “recently held a photo-op sit-down with some of the troops in Iraq. By sheer coincidence, all of the assembled troops said they support an increase in troops to Iraq.”

Nevertheless, given the results, it’s safe to say civilians aren’t the only ones Bush is losing.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.