Three retired U.S. generals warned in a chilling column Friday that another coup attempt in America in 2024 could divide the military and plunge an unprepared nation into civil war.
“With the country still as divided as ever, we must take steps to prepare for the worst,” wrote former Army Major Gen. Paul Eaton, former Brigadier Gen. Steven Anderson and former Army Major Gen. Antonio Taguba.
As the nation nears the first anniversary of the Capitol riot, the generals are “increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk,” they wrote in The Washington Post.
“In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time,” they added.
The next time could be far more cataclysmic if members of the military throw in with those who want to overthrow the government, the generals warned.
“Without constant maintenance, the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown is very real,” the trio noted.
A “disturbing number” of veterans and even active-duty military members took part in the attack on the Capitol. The “potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines ... is significant should another insurrection occur,” they added.
In a “contested election, with loyalties split,” some might “follow orders from the rightful commander in chief,” while other “rogue units” might “follow the Trumpian loser ... it is not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war,” the generals warned.
The “lack of military preparedness for the aftermath of the 2020 election was striking and worrying. Trump’s acting defense secretary, Christopher Miller, testified that he deliberately withheld military protection of the Capitol before Jan. 6,” the generals noted.
That can’t happen again, they emphasized.
Military leaders can’t wait for elected officials to take adequate action to prepare for the next time. “Not a single leader who inspired” the last attempt has even been “held to account,” the generals noted.
The Pentagon must act now to reenforce “unity of command,” and order an immediate “civics review” for all members — uniformed and civilian — on the Constitution and electoral integrity, the generals urged.
And in a particularly dark scenario, the generals recommended that the Defense Department “war-game the next potential post-election insurrection or coup attempt to identify weak spots.”
Everyone, they urged, must “show more urgency.”
Check out the entire column here.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.