An urgent warning from 3 retired generals explains how 2024 may trigger 'military breakdown' and 'civil war'
Almost a year has passed since the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building — an event that continues to raise concerns about the potential for violence, chaos and unrest during and after the 2024 presidential election. Three of the people who are sounding the alarm are Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba and Steven M. Anderson, all retired U.S. Army generals. In a disturbing op-ed recently published by the Washington Post, they warn that the “aftermath” of 2024’s election could have a “potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk.”
“In short, we are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time,” the retired generals write. “One of our military’s strengths is that it draws from our diverse population; it is a collection of individuals, all with different beliefs and backgrounds. But without constant maintenance, the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown is very real.”
The retired generals go on to explain why they fear the possibility of “insurrection” within the U.S. military.
“The signs of potential turmoil in our armed forces are there,” Eaton, Taguba and Anderson note. “On January 6, a disturbing number of veterans and active-duty members of the military took part in the attack on the Capitol. More than one in ten of those charged in the attacks had a service record. A group of 124 retired military officials, under the name ‘Flag Officers 4 America,’ released a letter echoing Donald Trump’s false attacks on the legitimacy of our elections.”
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The veterans continue, “Recently, and perhaps more worrying, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the commanding general of the Oklahoma National Guard, refused an order from President Biden mandating that all National Guard members be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Mancino claimed that while the Oklahoma Guard is not federally mobilized, his commander in chief is the Republican governor of the state, not the president.”
“Real Time” host Bill Maher, during a recent appearance on CNN, stressed that he fears the possibility of all hell breaking loose in the U.S. in January 2025 if former President Donald Trump is the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, President Joe Biden wins the election, and Trump once again falsely claims that he is the real winner. In a somber voice, Maher commented that Inauguration Day 2025 is when he wants to be “on vacation in London.” And the Post op-ed by Eaton, Taguba and indicates that they are also quite worried about what will follow the 2024 election in such a scenario.
“The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur,” the retire generals warn. “The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the ‘rightful’ commander in chief cannot be dismissed. Imagine competing commanders in chief — a newly reelected Biden giving orders, versus Trump, or another Trumpian figure, issuing orders as the head of a shadow government. Worse, imagine politicians at the state and federal levels illegally installing a losing candidate as president.”
Eaton, Taguba and Anderson continue, “All service members take an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution. But in a contested election, with loyalties split, some might follow orders from the rightful commander in chief, while others might follow the Trumpian loser. Arms might not be secured depending on who was overseeing them. Under such a scenario, it is not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war. In this context, with our military hobbled and divided, U.S. security would be crippled. Any one of our enemies could take advantage by launching an all-out assault on our assets or our allies.”
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In order to prevent the possibility of “civil war,” the retired generals recommend a “civics review for all members” of the U.S. armed forces as well as a “review of the laws of war and how to identify and deal with illegal orders.”
“Finally, the Defense Department should war-game the next potential post-election insurrection or coup attempt to identify weak spots,” Eaton, Taguba and Anderson recommend. “It must then conduct a top-down debrief of its findings and begin putting in place safeguards to prevent breakdowns not just in the military, but also, in any agency that works hand in hand with the military. The military and lawmakers have been gifted hindsight to prevent another insurrection from happening in 2024 — but they will succeed only if they take decisive action now.”
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