Retired army general urges the US military to prepare for a possible ‘coup’ attempt in 2024

Retired army general urges the US military to prepare for a possible ‘coup’ attempt in 2024
Gen. Paul D. Eaton in 2008, Wikimedia Commons

In a sobering op-ed published by the Washington Post on December 17, three retired U.S. Army generals — Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba and Steven M. Anderson — warned that that if Republicans make another coup attempt following the 2024 presidential election, there could be a “potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk.” Eaton discussed his worries with National Public Radio’s Mary Louise Kelly in an interview aired in late December.

Kelly reports, “As the anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol approaches, three retired U.S. generals have warned that another insurrection could occur after the 2024 presidential election, and the military could instigate it.” The retired generals, in their Post op-ed, wrote, “We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time.” And Eaton didn’t sound any less worried when he spoke to Kelly for NPR.

Kelly asked Eaton how a “coup” could “play out in 2024,” to which he responded, “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 U.S. military. And we saw it when 124 retired generals and admirals signed a letter contesting the 2020 election. We're concerned about that. And 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.”

Eaton went on to say that in the military, there is “a lot of war-gaming” in order to prepare for various “scenarios” and “ferret out what might happen.” One possible scenario to be concerned about in 2024, Eaton told Kelly, is “a U.S. military compromised” — and the U.S., according to Eaton, is in trouble when “39% of the Republican Party” is “refusing to accept President Biden as president.”

The retired general told Kelly, “We advocate that that particular scenario needs to be addressed in a future war game held well in advance of 2024…. I just don't want the doubt that has compromised or infected the greater population of the United States to infect our military.”

In addition to “war-gaming” a possible coup attempt in 2024, Eaton recommends that military recruits be thoroughly educated about the U.S. Constitution.

“I had a conversation with somebody about my age, and we were talking about civics lessons, liberal arts education, and the development of the philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution,” Eaton told Kelly. “And I believe that bears a re-teach to make sure that each and 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.”

Eaton continued, “I believe that we need to wargame the possibility of a problem and what we are going to do. The fact that we were caught completely unprepared — militarily, and from a policing function — on January 6, is incomprehensible to me. Civilian control of the military is sacrosanct in the U.S., and that is a position that we need to reinforce…. 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 U.S. Constitution, then those folks need to be identified and addressed in some capacity.”

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