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Poll: Public rejects ‘Global force for good'

Feb. 5, 2013 - 12:22PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 5, 2013 - 12:22PM  |  
Navy jets fly in formation above the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln last year. Respondents to a new national poll panned the Navy's "Global Force for Good" mottol.
Navy jets fly in formation above the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln last year. Respondents to a new national poll panned the Navy's "Global Force for Good" mottol. (Navy)
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The Navy's recruitment slogan may not be sitting well with its target audience the American public.

Only 20 percent of Americans support the Navy's message of, "America's Navy: A Global Force for Good," a new national poll reports.

It's only the latest controversy for the service's feel-good slogan used to attract new recruits.

The Rasmussen Reports">poll, released Tuesday, asked likely voters this question: "The U.S. Navy now claims it is a global force for good. Is the Navy's mission primarily to be a global force for good or primarily to protect and defend the United States?"

Seventy percent of the 1,000 respondents said the Navy's responsibility was primarily to defend the nation, while 20 percent said it was to be a global force for good, according to the polling company's data. Ten percent said they were unsure.

The motto has turned off many. Sailors have seen it as preachy. Many citizens believe that the service's emphasis should be on defending America, not helping the world. And a Navy one-star publicly">critiqued the motto last August, saying that the motto doesn't reach a wide-enough audience, namely the taxpayers.

But the way the poll asked the question is sure to stoke debate. Navy leaders and many defense analysts believe that the Navy's humanitarian aid and disaster relief are vital missions that strengthen American security by building goodwill and that also happen to entice new recruits, eager to serve. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert begins most of his speeches by stressing that America's security is maintained in the far-flung maritime crossroads of the Earth, a message underscored by his chosen backdrop: a map that shows the fleet's global position.

A Navy spokesman called the slogan a recruiting message and not one aimed at the general public, adding that they've heard these criticisms from the fleet as well.

"Broadly, the findings in the survey match what Navy leadership has heard from sailors and the public at large when conducting either all hands calls or community outreach around the country," said Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello. "There are groups that like the slogan and there are groups that think it misses the true mission of our Navy and that it may be time for a change."

Navy Recruiting Command, which is responsible for the motto, has said that the slogan has been successful since it was adopted in 2009. It has boosted the public's recognition more than two-fold and garnered talented recruits from the so-called Millennial Generation.

Indeed, the poll found the slogan resonated most with the youngest voters. Twenty-three percent of respondents aged 18 to 39 favored the slogan, compared to 19 percent for those 40 to 64 and 15 percent of those 65 and older. The responses also had a partisan skew. Thirty-one percent of self-identified Democrats liked it compared to only 12 percent of Republicans. (It didn't do well among those who affiliate with other parties, getting only 14 percent of those respondents.)

Rasmussen has been accused by some critics of skewing conservative.

In a statement, Navy Recruiting Command spokesman Cmdr. Alvin Plexico said, "Both external and internal surveys show overwhelmingly positive support for Navy Recruiting advertising by those we recruit as well as those who may influence someone considering service."

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