‘That we were caught completely unprepared on January 6 is incomprehensible to me,’ retired Major General says
Paul Eaton, a retired US Army major general and an adviser to the progressive group VoteVets, told NPR earlier this week that “the real question is, does everybody understand who the duly elected president is? If that is not a clear cut understanding, that can infect the rank and file or at any level in the US military”.
“We saw it when 124 retired generals and admirals signed a letter contesting the 2020 election,” he added.
Maj Gen Eaton wrote an Op-Ed in The Washington Post alongside fellow generals Antonio Taguba and Steven Anderson on 17 December, stating that they are “chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time” and that the military needs to prepare.
“We’re interested in seeing mitigating measures applied to make sure that our military is better prepared for a contested election, should that happen in 2024,” Maj Gen Eaton told NPR.
Six months before the last election, the military held war games, playing out four scenarios to understand what might happen after polling day.
“What we did not play is a US military compromised – not to the degree that the United States is compromised today, as far as 39 per cent of the Republican Party refusing to accept President Biden as president – but a compromise nonetheless,” Maj Gen Eaton said. “So, we advocate that that particular scenario needs to be addressed in a future war game held well in advance of 2024.”
Praising the current Pentagon leadership, Maj Gen Eaton said: “I just don’t want the doubt that has compromised or infected the greater population of the United States to infect our military.”
When asked what the military should do, Maj Gen Eaton said the US needs to ensure that “every 18-year-old American truly understands the Constitution of the United States, how we got there, how we developed it and what our forefathers wanted us to understand years down the road. That’s an important bit of education that I think that we need to re-address”.
“The fact that we were caught completely unprepared – militarily, and from a policing function – on January 6, is incomprehensible to me,” he added. “Civilian control of the military is sacrosanct in the US and that is a position that we need to reinforce.”
Maj Gen Eaton said that members of the military know each other “very, very well” and that “if there is any doubt in the loyalty and the willingness to follow the Oath of the United States, the support and defend part of the US Constitution”, among service members “then those folks need to be identified and addressed in some capacity”.