The results are in.
According to a new Gallup Poll, Americans overwhelmingly believe that the Marine Corps is the most prestigious branch of the armed services. No word on whether it’s the dress blues, the tough image, or the elite missions undertaken by the likes of Force Recon and MARSOC, but with 47 percent of the vote, the Marines polled nearly three times higher for prestige than the next runner-up, the U.S. Air Force.
As you can see from the Gallup chart below, the Marine Corps has been slowly increasing its edge over the other services in terms of prestige, though the Corps has held the top spot in public opinion since 2001.
In terms of importance, though, the Army, the nation’s largest branch, maintains its lead in the polls.
According to Gallup, 26 percent of Americans think the Army is most important for security, while the Marine Corps, with 19 percent of the vote, slipped from second to third place behind the Air Force this year.
Until 2004, Americans believed the Air Force was the most important branch. Gallup speculates that the Army leads now because its significance in the last decade of ground wars.
“This shift in opinion most likely stemmed from the heavy ground combat in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s and early 2010s,” Gallup officials Dave Goldich and Art Swift write. “The Army, the largest branch of the military, has likely improved its standing in the U.S. public’s eyes as a result of the role it played in these conflicts.”
At the end of the day, of course, it’s one team, one fight–but how would you rank the services? Why do you think the Marines continue to lead in prestige?