Poll: The Navy is the least prestigious service

Ships from the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group simulate a strait transit. (Photo by MC2 Justin Wolpert)

Ships from the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group simulate a strait transit. (Photo by MC2 Justin Wolpert)

American adults overwhelmingly consider the Marine Corps the “most prestigious” service, according to a Gallup poll released Friday. What about the Navy, you ask? Of the four Defense Department services, It came in dead last.

Whatever, America, if you want think the Marine Corps is distinguished service, go right ahead. (You’re welcome for the Osama bin Laden thing, by the way. You know that was a Navy SEAL team, right?)

While the rest of the services are receding back into garrison or desperately seeking ways to get on ships, nothing will change for the Navy. It will still be forward. Sailors will still be working their tails off, providing Western Civilization with ballistic missile defense, facing down America’s adversaries and protecting the sea lanes where more than 90 percent of the world’s trade is transported. (Full disclosure: the author is a Navy vet who served four years in the fleet.)


And the hits keep coming. The poll of 1,028 adults, aged 18 and up, also reported the Navy is also seen as the least important service, with only 17 percent of respondents (the well-informed ones) saying that it was the most important. The Army topped that list with 26 percent of respondents ranking it as most important.


The founding fathers seemed to think that a Navy was important, according to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives congress the authority to “provide and maintain a navy” while only allowing them to “raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years.”

Our colleagues at Marine Corps Times first spotted this. You can check out their post here, and be sure to read the comments (“The prestige is the highest in my Corps because we strive to maintain and carry on that prestige” and “Because you can join the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force but you must become a Marine.” are among the best.)

By the way, if you want that epic display of sea power for your desktop image, left click for a full resolution JPG.


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  1. Keith Alholm on

    So… 2% seems to be lower than the Navy but I guess you don’t consider the Coast Guard a service?

  2. Donald Becker on

    Amazing how misinformed people are. They rank the U S NAVY last in importance. The Army and Marines wouldn’t have a whole lot to do if noy for the Navy (the only forward deployed service). The Navy is first on the scene where there is any problems. The Navy also prepares the battlefield for the Army and Marines via NGFS(Naval Gunfire Support). We also provide Recon for all services. Without the Navy the other services would enter combat blind. Get your facts straight.

  3. Ever heard of Hospital Corpsman? How about the job field/MOS/NEC with the most awarded Medal of Honors. Navy!! Just saying.

  4. Tracy Walker on

    Last time I checked the Marines are in the Department of the Navy. So I guess we are the most prestigious.

  5. Yeah, whatever.

    Coasties are awesome. They’re a lot more nimble than our capital ships were, and serve important roles on our coastal borders.

    IMHO, despite my Naval preference, USAF should be at the top end, then Navy & CG, then Army, then the Jar Heads.


    (Semper Fi, Brothers.)

  6. They all need each other and they all bleed red. Stop the High school antics of who is better.
    Marine Mom

  7. So the real question is, how do we as the greatest service in the world change that perception? It is something we really need to do.

  8. I wonder if Perform to Serve, Continuation boards , “strategic” cuts, digi blues, and grounded ships have anything to do with our crappy image.

  9. so whenever there is trouble somewhere in the world, the first thing the president asks is ” where are the marines”? wait, i thought that was “where are the carriers”?

  10. Not so sure we need to. I think our reputation and the perception of the USN is just fine where it may matter most, in the hearts and minds of our enemies! I’m a Desert Storm vet, go Nimitz! After Desert Storm I definitely noticed the media going on and on about how the other branches had just had to deploy for so long, and the sacrifice and suffering by their members and their families, alike. Not much mention of that particular aspect was made about the Navy and it’s members and families. I fully understood the hardship endured by the families and other members of the military, the separation, because, after all, it’s the US Navy’s way of life. Our bread and butter. Our duty and our honor. Of the people who ever walked on the moon, or served as President, how many were navy veterans? I also believe you can have a knock down drag out brawl amongst all the branches in a drinking establishment in, say, Dubaii, for instance. As soon as another country gets into it, all of our services retarget, in a manner of speaking, and defend the flag, or defend the flag’s other drunken defenders! 🙂

  11. The articles author just illustrates a big reason the Navy lags the other services, it thinks its sh*t does not stink, even in light of things that says it does to high heaven, while also taking jabs at the other services as if they should be bowing down to the Navy.

    No, that mindset could NOT possibly make people thinking unfavorably of the Navy.

  12. While it was probably not considered, the Coast Guard is still considered a military service if only because the Navy can coopt it whenever it, and Congress, deems necessary.

    The mindset of the majority of individuals toward the Navy was actually originated back in European literature with the most prevalent phrase being “Swore like a Sailor” and considered by literate society (many included did not read/write) as being something not desired, particularly in relation to children and women.

  13. Dont forget sir, sadly, most Americans DO NOT HAVE A CLUE about our services – especilly Navy (bro SOPs Ofcr)

  14. Dont forget sir, sadly, most Americans DO NOT HAVE A CLUE about our services – especilly Navy (bro SOPs Ofcr). Thanks to ALL WHO SERVE ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO MUST GO TO.EXTREMES – Covert assignments, long tours you ALL IN MY PRAYERS DAILY! OUR NATIO OWES YOU ! SUPPORT OUR TROOPS CONGRESS !

  15. George Brewster on

    The Army is the oldest service but that doesn’t make them more important than the others. The Marines are in fact part of the Department of Navy but that doesn’t make them less. The Marines are the smallest but that doesn’t diminish their worth. The Air Force was created from the Army Air Corp but that doesn’t lessen their value to the team. The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Sercurity unless we are at war but does mean they aren’t service members? The reason we have 5 distinct service each with their own mission and capability. I feel that we would all be in a better place if we embrace our differences and show the American people that our differences are our strength. These polls are useless to the services as they are the opinion of the public who have little real knowledge of the differences or the reasons for those differences. I used to ask my guys would they decline air support in combat if it wasn’t Army. Would they not want medical attention from a corp man if they were injuried. Of course they would want help from a sister service in a time of need. It may be different but it would be accepted and appreciated.

    I am thankful for every service and the effort they expend ensure our country is safe regardless of the uniform you wear or the poll results.

    George Brewster
    US Army

  16. I find it hysterical that Marines are the most prestigious but Navy is dead last.. Wait isn’t the Marines a division of the Department of the Navy???????? MMMM!!! Interesting!!!!!

  17. The Army and the Marines wouldn’t have much to do if not for the Navy? Lol. Hilarious. I didn’t know the Navy caused political unrest and whatnot in other countries. If not for the Navy the other services would enter combat blind? Lolol. I forgot the Navy controlled all of the satellites. Hold on, they don’t. Nor do they have all of the Special Forces in the military.

  18. I’ve read some of the other comments.. The one thing I do agree is that all branches need each other… I a person who is partial to Marines and Navy since my daughter is a Sailor and her twin brother is a Marine… We have some interesting convos but doesn’t mean that in time of combat they are not there for each other… As American people we should be there for all past, present, and future veterans no matter what branch they serve in….

  19. Donnie Bowerman on

    WGBates…neither the US. Navy nor the Congress can “coopt it whenever it deems necessary.” An asinine and ignorant statement. ONLY in times of declared war does the possibility exist that the USCG can be or is assimilated into the Department of the Navy. That said, this country has been engaged in at least three declared wars during the last several decades, and at NO time did that assimilation occur. The USCG has provided men and materiel to Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Kuwait, Iraq, and Ass-ghanistan. In every war or operation, the USCG did its thing in concert with the other services, but not as a part of the Navy Department. Additionally, the USCG has existed as a military service since 1790, and has ALWAYS been recognized as such, though, I get very pissed off when high ranking military personnel and politicians can’t remember the names of ALL FIVE BRANCHES OF THE US ARMED FORCES. I get even more irate when I see parades, American Legion or VFW posts, with an American flag and FOUR military flags flying. Ask yourself who were the coxswains on the overwhelming majority of landing craft at Normandy or at every island invasion in the Pacific? USCG personnel, supplemented by a number of naval Reservists. Yes, the USMC is NOT an official branch of the military, but rather an armed landing force of the US Navy. But I am not going to tell that to a twenty-year-old marine with a fully loaded M-16, especially when he would just cop an attitude when I told him!!!

    Donnie Bowerman, SCPO (ret.) USN, USA, and USCG!!!

  20. I’ve spent 14 years in the Navy, and in those years I worked with the Marines for most of the time ( I’m a Corpsman ) but I worked with all branches. USCG USAF USMC. Only civilians think the military branches work alone. Truth is, we all work together and complement each other. We are all one team. Haze gray and underway! And of corse.. Semper Fi!!

  21. This reason for our lack of Top Billing is simple. We have not been in a SEA battle in many years. Our rescue missions all over the world don’t count. Nobody in the world wants to go against the United States on any of the worlds oceans or seas simply because it would be virtually guaranteed failure.
    As long as funding does not go by these ridiculous surveys, let the uninformed think what they will. Each of our military branches, even you Coasties, plays a vital role in the defense of the United States. Thank each and every one of you for what you put on the table every day.

  22. The author did a disservice to the Coast Guard. However, the Coast Guard is not part of the DoD, it is now owned by Homeland Defense. So that may have influenced the author’s way of thinking.

    Who cares what civilians think? Half the population of Fresno, CA doesn’t know there is a Naval Air Base in Lemoore, 40 miles to the south. I only care what the peeps that are in the military think, and each better think their own service is the best. Go Navy!

  23. I am sure that the majority of this survey was answered by people who never served and/or have served in a particular branch and of course going to choose their branch served as ‘most important.’ While according to this survey, Marines are Most Prestigious and the Army is Most Important, of course it is up for debate. The survey is a joke as there is nothing out there that states any one branch is more prestigious or more important. They are all equally important and prestigious and serve their own purpose in todays military.
    Semper Fi! (Marine and Army Veteran)

  24. @Kelsey Jewell

    Please do some research before you make an incorrect statement and start calling other people idiots. The Marines are NOT part of the Navy. The are their own branch of service within the Department of The Navy, since they do not have their own department within the Department of Defense. They are still their own branch of service.

  25. Are you kidding me? Seriously? The Marines are an UNDER department of the Navy. Marines: My ass rides in Navy equipment. I’d like to see a Marine float himself all the way across the ocean to get to a mission. Let us know how that works out for you ok?

    This is the most degrading article I’ve ever read!! Shame on you!! As far as I’m concerned? There is NO SUCH thing as the least or MOST elite in the branches. Because they ALL work hand in hand, side by side with each other. Each branch serves a very prestige purpose.

    Shame on you!

  26. I don’t know why everyone is getting into a tiff about this. I guarantee it was mostly civilians who don’t know squat about the military that were polled. “WE” know better though. At least I thought we did…

  27. The coast gaurd is part of the department of homeland security during peace time and can be transferred to the DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY during war time if needed. The navy will and always will be sacrificing time with their loved ones visiting ports and trying to keep peace between the countries. I don’t see the government flying marines, Air Force, or army over to other countries to keep the peace….

  28. Let’s see the navy has a bigger air fleet then the Air Force oh ya the marines use all the navy’s amphibious equipment to get to there destination. Oh and the navy also helps out with national disaster because the coast guard can’t support it alone just saying.

  29. kim williams on

    Go navy. Great grandfather W WII Father Korean war. Uncle Vietnam. Cousin desert storm Navy family…go navy.

  30. Too bad you can’t factor the data on which branch has the highest paid enlisted veterans from training they recieved in the service, and their employment rate.

  31. To commit to any military service and serve honorably is “prestigious.” A poll like this should be reserved for “pub fodder” among U.S. military members, not some Navy Times reporter that decided this was a neat idea to create this poll.

    Most military members could care less what the “average American” feels is prestigious. We (military members and veterans) are less than 1% of the American population. Most of the remaining 99% have never STOOD THE WATCH, have no idea the sacrifices of the military member, nor do they know what we do on a daily basis.

    Included in this gaggle of uninformed idiots (who probably participated in this poll) is the U.S. Congress, which is at an all-time low when it comes to military veterans.

    HEY Navy Times, you want to really do something positive for the military member. Question the U.S. Congress concerning their proposed/on-going cuts to military pay, housing, benefits, education, etc. Question Congress about VA benefits, medical support for wounded warriors, and PTSD care for combat veterans. BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION and stop wasting my time with STUPID POLLS.

    To All Military Members who have stood the watch or are standing the watch, DON’T BUY INTO this B.S.

    Robert K. Lanier, Chief, U.S. Coast Guard, retired

    VISUALIZE: Chief Drops Mic

  32. Anyone can make statistics look anyway they want – nothing new there.

    Bottom line – the Navy is out there doing it, not grandstanding about it!

    Let the others crow about how great their uniforms look, or how tough they have it – but watch how excited they get when Navy aircraft are overhead covering their butts; or missiles from Navy ships off shore are taking out the bad guys in front of them..

    D. W. REID, CTA1, USN (Ret)
    Served 1964-1984
    Vietnam 1968-1970

  33. Paul Bonaventura on

    Each branch has it’s responsibility and none is more important than the other. But remember a couple of things: the Navy does more air strikes than the Air Force, SEALs are the first on the Beach to Recon for the Marines, and the Navy provides gunfire support for the Army. Pretty well rounded service. I’m proud of my Navy and would serve another 24 years.

  34. Technically speaking there are only 2 branches of the military! The Marine Corps are under the Department of the Navy, and The U.S Coast Guard is under the Navy during war time but the Navy lends them to the Department of Transportation which morphed into the Department of Homeland Security. The other military branch is the Army. The Air Force was created under them for air support and resupply missions! So the Navy covers 3/5ths of the military forces!

  35. Faith Sonnenberg on

    I don’t serve in the military but speaking from a civilian standpoint, I see every branch playing a key role in defending our country. One without the other would be like trying to fly a helicopter without Propellers. But Go Navy for having to take all of the criticism!

  36. Ok so here’s what I think. First the rankings show the Coast Guard as dead last which is actually very accurate. I know no one wants to here that but it is true. The Marines are apart of the Navy and should fall after the Navy because they do ride in all of our equipment or else they would not get to where they need to go. After the Navy and Marines the Army should fall in and then the Air force. You can be mad all you want but in all reality this is how it goes. If you want to look at it in a minor scenario lets do that. Say a Hurricane is coming by our coast and is the coast line is expected to get hit some. The first thing that is set up is for the ships to get away.from the piers and where do we go might I ask? To the coast line area with a good distance between land and us so we can take the first hit. We take the first hit so it wont be as bad on the home front. Now the coast guard what the heck are they going to do besides maybe get themselves killed. The marines and the army are they going to shoot at the water…. uuuummmm No. Then the Airforce same as coast guard. Now lets think about it in a major way. Lets say there was terrorist activity in Yemen. They are not going to call the Airforce or the Coast Guard or the Army. At least not right away. They are going to tell the Navy to investigate and weather that be our Seals or Marines they will hit the land first. After that who do you think will strike first…. DInG DING DING….The Navy yet again wins… Destroyers have so much fire power if a war broke out then we could hold our own for as long as we needed until either more ships arrived or until we deployed the Army and Airforce. ALL I AM SAYING IS THINK IT THROUGH PEOPLE DON’T BE STUPID!!!!

  37. This poll is what divide these dedicated service members! Most of the people conducting the polls probably have never served anything other than themselves with a plate. Each branch depend on the other branch for either training, billeting, supplies and what have you. If you want to know the media corp with the least interesting/informative news, just look up the people who generated this garbage!

  38. 2014 the United States population is more than 317 million people, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates”
    This pole is based on the opinions of 1,028 adults, aged 18 and up. Enough said!!

  39. The Marines just have a better P.R. company than the other branches. By the way….. what other branch of the military services goes in to a city as a group and the city celebrates their presence for a whole week?

  40. DoDEmployee on

    How on earth can the Chair Force be anything but last?? For every one officer that actually flies a plane, there are 300 people that sit behind desks in air conditioned rooms and suck up DoD resources. I have worked on AF bases and still have no idea what most of the airmen actually do all day.

  41. Sammy K Nganga on

    Who are the 1,028 adults aged 18 they surveyed? The soldiers at Fort Carson, CO or the Airmen at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam? Do they realize the only military branch with all services combined is Navy? Do the know the best special ops is by Navy? and do they know the best Logistics folks are from the Navy??

  42. Who care, they all suck!!!!! You spend 9-15 months away from your family every other year and they say you did it for your country, NOOOO you did it cause your COC has a schedule to go by that says when you deploy and lets not forget the last deployments that are spur or the moment, Trust me when i say this, a 36K a year job isnt worth the benefits that the military give you, you may have good benefits but the PAY sucks, if this is a job, i would quit a long time ago, i have 15 years in, and i hate this CRAP!!!! You can have this and if anyone want to say anything negative about my comment go right ahead, it doesnt bother me one bit I actually love it!!!

  43. Wait a minute! Saying that something is not the MOST important is not the same as saying it is the LEAST important, or even that it is not important. Asking which service is most important is a pretty stupid question. They are all on the same team and work together to protect our nation.
    Likewise, seeing the Marines as most prestigious does not mean that the Navy is not seen as prestigious. They didn’t ask who was least prestigious. That is a stupid question too. Just look at the picture. I see around 85 aircraft and something around 300 missile launchers, that can go anywhere the water is liquid and deep. Who wants to be on the wrong side of that? Our armed forces aren’t about prestige, they are about firepower!

  44. My brothers and sister out there no matter the color of the uniform that they wear, are equally important. Our country would not be free, without the dedication and sacrifice of our service men and women.

  45. Perhaps the results have something to do with the current apparent lack of physical fitness and uniform standards. From what I see on bases, it appears that we have regressed to standards prevalent when I enlisted in 1977 with far too high percentage of our Sailors not meeting body fat standards or wearing the uniform with pride. Too many of our Chiefs and officers are once again stretching the seams on their Khakis.

    Bill Beard
    AVCM USN Retired

  46. Having served in both the Navy and the Air Force, not only do I disagree, I feel that each branch has a mission that is specifically tailored for that branch and each excels at what it does. These inter-service rivalries are a thing of the past. In today’s military, branches are more likely than not to work together on the same mission, same bases.

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