America's post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are unique. Never before has this nation been engaged in conflicts for so long. And never before has it waged sustained warfare with so small a share of its population carrying the fight.
This report sets out to explore a series of questions that arise from these historical anomalies. It does so on the strength of two nationwide surveys the Pew Research Center conducted in the late summer of 2011, as the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan approached.
One survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,853 military veterans, including 712 who served on active duty in the period after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The other was among a nationally representative sample of 2,003 American adults.
The report compares and contrasts the attitudes of post-9/11 veterans, pre-9/11 veterans and the general public on a wide range of matters, including sacrifice; burden sharing; patriotism; the worth of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; the efficiency of the military and the effectiveness of modern military tactics; the best way to fight terrorism; the desirability of a return of the military draft; the nature of America's place in the world; and the gaps in understanding between the military and civilians.