Here’s Your Worrisome Military Culture
divorce the paygrade from the person
To start out with, as this is the topic of the WaPo opinion bit I’m about to snipe at, if you did not read my thoughts about the events of January 6th, 2021 – you can read my thoughts I wrote that very day. I stand by them and they are fairly self-explanatory.
Paul D. Eaton is a retired U.S. Army major general and a senior adviser to VoteVets. Antonio M. Taguba is a retired Army major general, with 34 years of active duty service. Steven M. Anderson is a retired brigadier general who served in the U.S. Army for 31 years.
Executive summary: these three men – all Army I might add (not historically insignificant) – are one of two things:
1. Gobsmackingly delusionally isolated leftists with totalitarian tendencies.
2. Incredibly bad actors in the political sphere who ham-fistedly desire to ingratiate themselves with a certain sub-set of equally bad actors.
Perhaps a combination of the two, or a third, but one thing is clear; they do not have an understanding of the nation or people they once served.
Let’s get to some pull quotes where they seem to propose actions that will do nothing but create the conditions they state they are worried about:
…the potential for lethal chaos inside our military…
In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time.
One point of order that should be unnecessary, these are in theory professional military senior leaders. Especially given the history of army generals in other nations leading coups, they should know what a coup actually is. The events of January 6th were many things … but a coup it was not. Not even close.
… the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown is very real… 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 idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the “rightful” commander in chief cannot be dismissed.
If you have begun to wonder if these men don’t understand their nation, you can also see they don’t understand the people in the US military that well either. They need to get out more.
Their premise is paranoid fantasy at best, intentional alarmism at worst. The overwhelming percentage of the US population has little direct contact with people in their military. Well-meaning people on the left who are predisposed to this narrative in the opinion piece are being intentionally misled. This is beyond irresponsible.
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.
No. Not really. The authors don’t seem to understand we have Judicial Branch who, after the 2000 election, stepped in and did their duty. Everyone but a few minor intellects accepted it and moved on.
It is hard to decide what the authors are more ignorant of, The Constitution, the American people, or US military members.
For those readers who still have an open mind, perhaps you are wondering, “Hey, it could happen, but the conditions would need to be set for this to take place. We aren’t even close to that yet … but you are being too dismissive Sal.”
I’m open to that critique, but why do the authors propose actions that would produce the desired conditions to move towards such a military breakdown?
There’s a template out there. It doesn’t come from the American military tradition – just like the opinion of these three retired General Officers – but the template exists;
But the military cannot wait for elected officials to act. The Pentagon should immediately order a civics review for all members — uniformed and civilian — on the Constitution and electoral integrity. There must also be a review of the laws of war and how to identify and deal with illegal orders. And it must reinforce “unity of command” to make perfectly clear to every member of the Defense Department whom they answer to. No service member should say they didn’t understand whom to take orders from during a worst-case scenario.
The Commander in Chief is who exactly?
So, the President as CINC of the military of our representative republic should order what exactly? “The Pentagon” is run by civilians, political appointments made by the CINC. The Pentagon’s military side does not do anything without an order from the CINC via his appointees. It is also populated by officers; Company, Field, and Flag/General who know how this works too … or are the authors here expecting the uniformed military senior leadership to … what do the cool kids say … go rogue and do this on their own?
In addition, all military branches must undertake more intensive intelligence work at all installations. The goal should be to identify, isolate and remove potential mutineers; guard against efforts by propagandists who use misinformation to subvert the chain of command; and understand how that and other misinformation spreads across the ranks after it is introduced by propagandists.
Who exactly will do this “more intensive intelligence work” as described? Anyone done the troops-to-task analysis to determine how many bodies this will take? What kind of training? Who defines criteria for investigation? Also, who will define who is or is not a “propagandist?”
Like I said earlier, there is a template for this. It isn’t in the American tradition, but it exists.
Finally, the Defense Department should war-game the next potential post-election insurrection or coup attempt to identify weak spots. 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.
Let’s try to flesh this little paragraph out a bit. Are the authors proposing that the US military march in to … where? Department of State? Treasury? Education? Homeland Security? …and do what exactly? At the end of a barrel of a gun have an infantry Captain order the Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen to follow … what exactly … the directives from General Milley, USA as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
OK Shipmate, if you want to create the conditions for a civil war … then sure … have some fool agree to your proposal and you’ll have it.
Of course “civil war” would be about step 438 and we’re on about step 3 – same step we’ve been on for over two decades – so I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this.
As we get closer to January 6th, expect more delusional crap like this irresponsible article from people who should know better.
If they want, perhaps they can take up writing fiction. In the world of fiction anyone, including me, can create any series of events that can lead to civil war – even in 2024 … but it won’t be realistic … and I sure as hell wouldn’t try to tell anyone to expect it to be any more predictive of the future then “Damnation Alley”.
It bears repeating that all three of these authors are retired Army Generals who are known left-wing types. That is not shocking, as the authors state,
...our military…draws from our diverse population.
…and that is OK. There are great Americans and patriots left of center. Some of them I count as my friends. They are well-meaning, good-faith actors in our political system. We may disagree with this or that – and agree on other things – as one does in a healthy society. They get the important things we hold in common right.
These three – at least in this case – are not that.
On top of it all, let’s say they got exactly what they wanted. What do they propose to do when we move – at some point – from a (D) Executive Branch to an (R) Executive Branch. Would they want a conservative (R) to have the powers over their military as they propose the Biden-Harris Administration have?
Well, if nothing else, these gentlemen have provided just another reason in peace that we do not want a large standing Army. The vast majority of our land forces should be in the National Guard if for no other reason than to make the nation more secure from Army officers who look at this big military of theirs and are itching to do something with it.