Support for President George W. Bush's Iraq policy has fallen among the US armed forces to just 54 percent from 63 percent a year ago, according to a poll by the magazine group Military Times.

In its annual survey of the views of military personnel, the group reported on its website that support for Bush's overall policies dropped over the past year to 60 percent from 71 percent.

While still significantly more supportive of the president than the broad US population, the fall in support by military personnel tracks a similar decline in the president's popularity among the general public.

"Though support both for President Bush and for the war in Iraq remains significantly higher than in the public as a whole, the drop is likely to add further fuel to the heated debate over Iraq policy," Military Times said.

"In 2003 and 2004, supporters of the war in Iraq pointed to high approval ratings in the Military Times poll as a signal that military members were behind ... the president's policy."

However, it said, the new poll "found diminished optimism that US goals in Iraq can be accomplished, and a somewhat smaller drop in support for the decision to go to war in 2003."

Military Times, which publishes popular magazines for each of the US military branches including Army Times and Navy Times, cautioned that its poll, of 1,215 active-duty servicemen, is not necessarily representative of the military as a whole.

The respondents were "on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the military population."

But the declining numbers for Bush tracked other polls. According to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, support for Bush's performance as president fell from 49 percent to 43 percent over the year to December 22.

The Military Times poll also showed a significant decline in the armed forces' views of US military policy and management.

With 61 percent of respondents saying they had served in Iraq or Afghanistan, only 58 percent believed that Bush had the military's best interests at heart, a sharp decline from 69 percent a year before.

Only 56 percent felt the US should have gone to war in Iraq, compared to 60 percent a year before.

And 64 percent felt the same about the Pentagon leadership, compared to 70 percent a year ago.

Addressing key issues facing the Pentagon, the poll showed that almost two-thirds of the soldiers felt the US military is "stretched too thin to be effective", but the number was less than a year ago.

At the same time, there was a fall in resistance to restoring the draft in the United States. Opposition fell from 75 percent a year ago to 68 percent this year.