Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton Needs a Better Research Assistant

Pro-Hagel op-ed ignores military credentials of leading congressional critic
Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, Rep. Tom Cotton / AP

Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, Rep. Tom Cotton / AP


Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton wrote an opinion piece for Reuters on Friday criticizing Rep. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) for leading the Republican attack against potential defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel.

Eaton wrote:

Cotton’s screed reveals the current thinking of the GOP’s dogmatic right-wing, which desperately needs the counterweight of “cautious realists.” Men who have experienced close combat tend to be practical.

Eaton claims that Cotton’s opposition is invalid because he has not experienced “close combat” like Hagel. However, Cotton was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan twice.

Cotton answered the call to serve in the U.S. Army following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He left his law practice, declined offers for a direct commission as an Army JAG, and volunteered to serve as an infantryman.

He served five years on active duty. His career started with a deployment to Iraq in 2006. After Iraq, he was a platoon leader at the Arlington National Cemetery. Cotton returned to combat in 2008, volunteering for duty in Afghanistan.