Retired Maj.-Gens. Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba and retired Brig.-Gen. Steven M. Anderson urged today's leaders to act to prevent scenes like those that unfolded during the January 6th insurrection and called on today's leaders to conduct "war games" in order to prepare for an attempted coup.
Issues stem from political differences, according to the generals, and most troubling is that the military is split among the political divide as well: Over 1 in 10 of those charged in the January 6th riots had a military service record, and a group of 124 retired military officials, under the name “Flag Officers 4 America,” released a letter echoing Donald Trump’s attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 US Presidential election.
“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,” the letter argues.
“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,” the letter continues.
Four potential solutions were presented by the servicemembers: firstly, the leaders of the January 6th attacks must be held accountable, such as Senator Josh Hawley and the former president himself, Donald Trump. Secondly, a thorough review for US Army service members on constitutional and electoral integrity, as “No service member should say they didn't understand whom to take orders from during a worst-case scenario." The generals also said the army should remove “potential mutineers” and that the Department of Defense should go as far as to conduct a “war-game” style exercise to practice their potential response and identify weak spots.
On January 6, 2021, hundreds of people stormed the US Capitol complex to stop lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 election win, eventually breaching the complex and forcing congress members to be locked down for their own safety. One person was killed during the riot and several Republican politicians – most notably Donald Trump, the former US President and opponent to election winner Joe Biden – never conceded the election and have claimed it was illegitimate and even “rigged.” So far, dozens of people have been subpoenaed, and members say hundreds more have cooperated with the inquiry. Meanwhile, more than 700 people have been arrested and charged with crimes associated with the siege of Congress.
"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," the letter concludes.