Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller put his career on the line calling out senior leaders, demanding “accountability” for their failures in Afghanistan and was relieved of his duties on Friday for speaking out.
The Marine Corps battalion commander was relieved of his duties after he posted a viral video on Thursday that called for military brass to take responsibility for their part in the Afghanistan disaster that has culminated so far in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and 169 Afghans. Instead of taking his words to heart, his commanding officers silenced him.
The four-minute, 45-second video was originally posted to Facebook. Scheller appeared in uniform and slammed military leadership following the deadly suicide bombing near the Kabul airport.
“The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down. That service member has always rose to the occasion and done extraordinary things. People are upset because their senior leaders let them down, and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability and saying, ‘We messed this up,’” he stated, knowing that his career would probably be over after the video went live.
(Video Credit: Stuart Scheller)
“I’m not saying we’ve got to be in Afghanistan forever,” Scheller noted, “but I am saying: Did any of you throw your rank on the table and say, ‘Hey, it’s a bad idea to evacuate Bagram Airfield, a strategic airbase, before we evacuate everyone?’ Did anyone do that? And when you didn’t think to do that, did anyone raise their hand and say, ‘We completely messed this up?’”
Scheller said he was making his video “because I have a growing discontent and contempt for … perceived ineptitude at the foreign policy level, and I want to specifically ask some questions to some of my senior leaders.”
He said he was “willing to risk my current battalion commander’s seat, my retirement, my family stability to say some of the things that I want to say.” Doing so would give him “some moral high ground to demand the same honesty, integrity, accountability for my senior leaders.”
Scheller is one of the very few officers who have the courage to come forward and call out military leadership for the bloody, botched mess in Afghanistan that President Biden is responsible for. The video made the rounds in military circles on social media and took off. As of Friday night, it had been shared more than 40,000 times.
Following the video going viral, Scheller wrote on Facebook that he had been “relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence as of 14:30 today.”
“My chain of command is doing exactly what I would do … if I were in their shoes,” admitted Scheller. He also added that he would not give interviews until he had formally left the Marine Corps.
Scheller says that he personally knew one of the service members who was killed in the Kabul bombing.
“Potentially all those people did die in vain if we don’t have senior leaders that own up and raise their hand and say, ‘We did not do this well, in the end,’” he remarked. “Without that, we just keep repeating the same mistakes.”
“I have been fighting for 17 years,” Scheller commented. “I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders: I demand accountability.”
“This is obviously an emotional time for a lot of Marines, and we encourage anyone struggling right now to seek counseling or talk to a fellow Marine,” Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger said in a statement, Fox News reported. “There is a forum in which Marine leaders can address their disagreements with the chain of command, but it’s not social media.”
Scheller also sadly proclaimed after he was dismissed, “America has so many issues … but it’s my home.”
“When my Marine Corps career comes to an end, I look forward to a new beginning,” Scheller declared. “My life’s purpose is to make America the most lethal and effective foreign diplomacy instrument. While my days of hand-to-hand violence may be ending … I see a new light on the horizon.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who is a former Navy SEAL and lost his right eye while on his third deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, honored Scheller and praised him for his courage.
“This guy is all class. He knew what the consequences would be. His concerns are not wrong. Many people feeling the same lack of accountability. When the dust settles that accountability must happen,” Crenshaw tweeted.
This guy is all class. He knew what the consequences would be. His concerns are not wrong. Many people feeling the same lack of accountability. When the dust settles that accountability must happen. https://t.co/bpA79F4Fdi
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) August 28, 2021
Scheller said that after he posted the video, “I immediately had multiple Marines call and ask me to take down the post. ‘We all agree with you Stu, but nothing will change, and it will come at a huge personal cost to you.’”
“[W]e can’t ALL be wrong,” the Marine asserted. “If you all agree … then step up. They only have the power because we allow it. What if we all demanded accountability?”
Scheller is a father of three and has served in the USMC Infantry for 17 years. He is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
He called out senior military leaders including Marine Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley, and pointed out that they are “supposed to advise.”
Milley insisting Bagram ‘not necessary tactically’ makes for convenient Biden scapegoat https://t.co/zgtuV7XOHf pic.twitter.com/PDolZQAcbT
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 27, 2021
“This amalgamation of the economic-slash-corporate-slash-political-slash-higher military ranks are not holding up their end of the bargain,” Scheller concluded.
The Marine was lauded on social media for his courage to take a stand and speak up:
He absolutely is spot on and he knew what would happen, but said it anyway. True definition of a Marine.
— M.Z. (@m_maz71) August 28, 2021
What he did took courage!
— Nelson R Bonilla (@nelsonrbonilla) August 28, 2021
Solid Class Act!
— Frank (@frank_cld9av8tr) August 28, 2021
I am not even in the same branch, but I could only hope for as good a leader.
— Battlereed (@BattleReed) August 28, 2021
God Bless the Marines!
— Kristin W. Beal (@kristinwbeal) August 28, 2021
i want to donate @gofundme to this fine soldier who had the b***s to say what many Soldiers and Americans are wondering and feeling at this very moment!!! just let me know where send money!!!!
— Jimmy Derecho (@Derecho10) August 28, 2021
Thank you for your service. You are a proud Marine!
— Judy T (@foxie531) August 28, 2021
Thank you sir for your service. And thank you for having the gonads to put your whole career on the line in speaking up and demanding the igits in the WH be held responsible for this debacle. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
— Susan Smith (@blueeyescrying1) August 28, 2021
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