(1st Add: Includes comments from Kelly Dougherty, co-founder of Iraq Veterans against the War.)
(CNSNews.com) - A new poll of U.S. troops in Iraq shows 72 percent support troop withdrawal from the country within the next year, while one in four say the military should leave immediately.
The poll, conducted by Zogby International in conjunction with Le Moyne College's Center for Peace and Global Studies, was the result of interviews with 944 military respondents at several undisclosed locations throughout Iraq.
"Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there," said pollster John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International, in a statement. "Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein."
The poll found that 58 percent of respondents think that the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42 percent said the vision is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding at all, or are unsure.
Within the branches of the military, respondents had different sentiments to the question on troop withdrawal. Eighty-nine percent of reserves and 82 percent of those in the National Guard favored a pullout within a year, while only 58 percent of Marines agreed. Seven in 10 of those in the Army said the U.S. should pull out troops in the next year.
Three-quarters of National Guard and Reserve units favor a troop withdrawal within six months, compared to 15 percent of Marines who agreed. Almost half of those in the Army wanted troops removed from Iraq in the next six months.
Also, 85 percent said the mission in Iraq is primarily "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks," while 77 percent said they believe the main reason for the war was "to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq."
As far as reaction back home, when asked why some Americans want troops withdrawn from Iraq, 37 percent of troops polled said those Americans are unpatriotic, while 20 percent said Americans don't believe a continued occupation will work.
Another 16 percent said those wanting troops to return home immediately are against the use of the military in a pre-emptive war, compared to 15 percent who do not believe those Americans understand the need for the U.S. military in Iraq.
The results also revealed that 29 percent of those surveyed said the U.S. should leave Iraq "immediately," 22 percent favor a pullout in the next six months, and another 21 percent said troops should be out between six and 12 months, and 23 percent said troops should stay "as long as they are needed."
Meanwhile, Kelly Dougherty, co-founder of Iraq Veterans against the War, objected to the findings of the Zogby poll.
"For many troops, it's their second or third tour; the situation is more dangerous than ever; they've been stop-lossed or forced to re-enlist," Dougherty said in a statement.
The poll was conducted Jan. 18 through Feb. 14, 2006 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
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