Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 2, 1974 · Page 158
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 158

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 2, 1974
Page 158
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Page 158 article text (OCR)

The Army War College Current Affairs Panel discusses key questions for Parade. From left: Lt. Col. James C. Van Straten, Col. Richard K. McNealy, Lt. Col. Henry Doctor Jr., faculty member L.L Col. Lewis 5. Sorley III (panel chairman), Col. Gerald E. Galloway, Lt. Col. Donald P. Shaw and Lt. Col. Richard L. Tripp. WhatMilitaryOfficers Ink if Tolly's Vital Issues W hat are the chances of a military coup in the U.S.? Do military men hate civilians? Do they really believe in detente between the United States and the Soviet Union? What's their opinion of Watergate? Questions like these are being asked with increasing frequency in this post- Vietnam era, when the military establishment is undergoing persistent criticism and the nation itself is plagued by greater doubts and confusion than for a century past. How do military men themselves think of the current state of the United States, and how do they visualize their own role? Is the nation's security, both internal and, external, safe in their hands? To get the answers to urgent ques- tiohs like these, I visited the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.; the Naval War College at Newport, R.I., and the Air War College in Montgomery, by Donald Robinson Ala. These are the institutions that are training the most promising officers in all three services for top command-the colonels, lieutenant colonels and commanders who'll be the four-star generals and admirals of tomorrow. I talked to them freely, and they answered my questions frankly. From their replies I've put together what I believe is a clear and complete picture of how our top military officers of the future feel about our country and its future. Dedicated to democracy First of all, we can be reassured on one crucial point--we need have no fear that a military junta will seize control of the U.S. government. The vast majority of officers are deeply dedicated to the democratic form of government. They agree that a military putsch is inconceivable because respect for civilian authority is too deeply ingrained in the minds of American officers. Said Col. Leonard W. Johnson, an Air Force flight surgeon: "We professional military .men have too much appreciation for the system under which we grew up to want to reverse it. There is nothing that makes us feel we need to overthrow, disrupt or upset the basic constitutional structure of this country." Added Vice Admiral Stansfield Turner, the President of the Naval War College: /The basic dedication of the officer corps to supporting the U.S. Constitution over all these years gives us a foundation that would take a long period of erosion or an awfully big upheaval to wear away." "What about a civilian coup?"" I asked a group of officers. "Suppose some President says: 'I have no more use for Congress. It isn't doing its job. As Commander-in-Chief, I order you to march up Capitol Hill, surround Congress, and send them home.' What would you do?" An Air Force colonel spoke for everyone when he answered: "I've explored that question in my mind many times. If an official order came down through the chain of command stating that the President wanted us to 'go up the Hill,' I'd refuse to obey, even if it meant a court-martial." "This would be the time I'd resign, right there," put in another Air-Force colonel. "If it's a coup," added an Air Force officer, "I'd say the hell with it." Are most officers far to the right politically? Not today, I was assured. Col. Lewis S. Sorley, a thoughtful Army officer, pointed out: "A very high percentage of the senior officers in the services have now attended graduate schools at hundreds of civilian universities. They have come into contact with the thinking of a wide assortment of faculty people and students, and their views have inevitably been shaped by this experience." Effective safeguard Many^ officers emphasized that the partition of our Armed Forces into three separate services constitutes an effective safeguard against any coup. It would be difficult for any one clique to get control of all the services,, they maintained. Furthermore, they pointed out, the civilian components of the Armed Forces--the National Guard and the Reserves--would almost certainly take up arms to resist a putsch.. Some of the views the officers hold on other matters might not fall so easily on civilian ears, however. Many officers candidly concede that deep antagonism toward civilians developed in military quarters during the last years of the Vietnam war. They blamed this on the indignities to which they were subjected--an Air Force officer told of obscenities shrieked at him by a stranger, a Navy man said his daughter had been ostracized at college because of his profession, one officer recalled a continued

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