Are the Armed Forces Understood and Supported by the Public? A View from the UK

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Despite the importance of public opinion in supporting the military and their missions, little is known about how the UK public perceive their Armed Forces. This article reviews and evaluates available research and opinion poll data of public attitudes toward the UK military and situates the evidence within the civil–military gap literature. Current evidence suggests public regard for the UK Armed Forces is high despite low levels of support for the Iraq and Afghanistan missions. Public understanding of the work of the Armed Forces is limited. Nonetheless, the United Kingdom’s long history of military deployments may have given the public an “intuitive understanding” of the basic realities of the military compared with other European states. There are indications of differences in attitudes between the UK Armed Forces and wider British society, but no firm evidence that the civil–military “gap” has become a “gulf” as claimed by some military leaders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-713
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Public Opinion


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