Sen. John McCain said Monday that a new Military Times report about sagging morale in today's force should spur Congress to repeal defense budget cuts.

"Everyone interested in strengthening America's national security and the well-being of our military men and women should be alarmed by the new Military Times survey finding a 'worsening morale crisis' in the U.S. armed forces," McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said in a press release.

McCain cited the Military Times report published Sunday that suggests morale, which held steady through the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has fallen in recent years.

A survey of 2,300 active-duty troops found morale indicators on the decline in nearly every aspect of military life. Troops report significantly lower overall job satisfaction, diminished respect for their superiors, and a declining interest in re-enlistment now compared to just five years ago.

According to the survey, active-duty troops reported a drop in how they rated their overall quality of life: Just 56 percent call it good or excellent, down from 91 percent in 2009. The survey, conducted in July and August, also showed that when asked to rate the quality of military officers, the percent responding "good" or "excellent" dropped from 78 percent to 49 percent.

McCain blamed the waning morale on the budget cuts that Congress allowed to take effect in 2013 as well as indecisive leadership from the Obama administration.

"Much of this is the responsibility of Congress — namely, the irresponsible and devastating sequestration cuts imposed last year. Repealing defense sequestration is among my top priorities in the new Congress," McCain said.

"When nearly every category surveyed reveals a significant dip from 2009 to today, we must all take notice and ask, 'Why is morale so low and what can we do to fix it?' said McCain, who is likely to be the most powerful senator on the Armed Services Committee next year when Republicans take over the majority.

"The growing dissatisfaction among the all-volunteer force during this Administration is cause for grave concern and requires immediate attention and action by the commander in chief Commander-in-Chief, senior Defense Department leaders and the U.S. Congress."

The survey's results are similar to the findings of an independent Navy Retention Survey released in September, which found low morale among sailors, a lack of desire to ascend to their boss's job, and widespread distrust of senior leadership as reasons for concern.

Andrew Tilghman is the executive editor for Military Times. He is a former Military Times Pentagon reporter and served as a Middle East correspondent for the Stars and Stripes. Before covering the military, he worked as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle in Texas, the Albany Times Union in New York and The Associated Press in Milwaukee.

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