Public aware of air strikes, but not drone strikes

April 16, 2015, 8:38 PM UTC

Americans tend to know where air strikes are and are not being conducted, but are less sure about countries where drone strikes are taking place

Since the US began launching air strikes last year against ISIS in Syria and Iraq the United States has seen its involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts expand. The United States is still engaged in air strikes on the Taliban in Afghanistan, despite the imminent withdrawal of ground troops. American forces have also launched unmanned drone strikes against Islamist militants in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia within the past six months. 

YouGov's latest research from YouGov shows that Americans are much better at knowing that the US is bombing countries when the military action is air strikes from piloted jets, as opposed to occasional drone strikes. 46% of Americans know that the US is currently bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while 43% know that the US continues to launch air strikes in Afghanistan. People are much less sure about whether or not the US is bombing Yemen, Pakistan or Somalia, three countries where the CIA and military launch occasional drone strikes, but where the US is not involved in a large-scale bombing campaign. Americans tend to know that the US is not bombing Ukraine, Iran or Libya. 

In countries where American air or drone strikes are taking place, people tend to support the bombing. Majorities of Americans back air strikes in Iraq (54%), Afghanistan (52%) and Syria (51%), while just under half support drone strikes in Yemen (45%), Somalia (44%) and Pakistan (42%). Opposition to strikes is highest when it comes to Pakistan, with 27% of Americans opposed to drone strikes there.

Even though both Democrats and Republicans tend to support rather than oppose air strikes, support is much higher among Republicans than Democrats. In fact, majorities of Republicans support air or drone strikes in each of the six countries where attacks are occuring, plus Libya. Among Democrats support for air or drone strikes never hits 50%. 

Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here.