General Eaton shares his views on the military

Hasmik Djoulakian

4a69bd2a-bd58-41ab-8825-6723ba954c4d-PLEE23(February 28, 2013) — “I do agree with General Paul D. Eaton. We need a draft,” said senior Greg Grigoryan. With the end to the war in Afghanistan now within sight, General Paul D. Eaton, the man who witnessed the first operations in Iraq, shed light on his experiences with and thoughts on the military on Feb. 13 through a Skype video conference with Grigoryan, who is president of GeoPolitics Club, and an audience of Clark students and staff.

Grigoryan said he had worked on organizing the teleconference with the general since July of last year. Since he couldn’t reach him directly, Grigoryan contacted the national security network think tank where Gen. Eaton works, and through it he was able to propose the teleconference to the general. Cinema teacher Matt Stroup helped organize the technical aspects of the event.

“The audio, video, bulletin channels, everything worked perfectly and [Mr. Stroup] gets the credit for that,” Grigoryan said. As some students watched on the television in their third period classes, Grigoryan and several panelists each presented Gen. Eaton with their questions, one of which was whether or not he believes there should have a national draft. Glendale Unified School District Board of Education Member Joylene Wagner was one of the panelists present, and she thought that his response, that a draft would lead to less military intervention because more people would have a personal interest in the matter, was compelling.

“As a freshman in high school on the debate team, the question all high school debate teams had to address was, ‘Should there be mandatory government service?’” Wagner said. “My reaction to the question on the draft was, ‘How great, to be considering this question again, in a different time, with children of my own whose lives could be in the balance!’”

Gen. Eaton was a particularly exciting person for the club to speak with because he had the liberty to speak freely on any topic. “He’s retired, so he could expand on political topics that an active general couldn’t,” Grigoryan said. Grigoryan asked the first question, after reading a quote from the book On War. “As the war in Iraq is over, can you please assess for us the whole war from the beginning to the end and the challenges you faced in Iraq?”

Gen. Eaton said that he viewed the war in three ways: strategic, operational and tactical. “Iraq is something that we have to manage, but short of full warfare,” he said. Jacob Minasian, who graduated from Clark two years ago and was the vice president of GeoPolitics club, came to attend the teleconference so that he could contribute to the discussion and be present to hear the questions and responses.

“I am actually re-evaluating my own opinion on some of these issues,” Minasian said. Wagner also asked what advice Eaton had for students today who are looking to enlist in the military. “What’s happening in Afghanistan, and what happens there and across the world in the future, is your future,” Wagner said.

“I believe that the opportunity and gift that Clark students had to relate directly to someone who has served, and continues to serve, at the highest levels in the United States military, is a rare opportunity.”