The Marine lieutenant colonel who was relieved of his command last week after criticizing the chaotic and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan while asking Pentagon brass to take responsibility now says he’s demanding “accountability” from them or he’s “bringing it.”
“The baby boomer’s turn is over,” Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, a 17-year vet, told the New York Post. “I demand accountability, at all levels. If we don’t get it, I’m bringing it.”
He went on to channel Thomas Jefferson, noting that “every generation needs a revolution.”
Scheller was “relieved for cause” — military terminology for firing a commander — after he posted a video to social media following the deaths of 11 Marines, two U.S. Army soldiers, and a Navy corpsman in a suicide attack on their position outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul Thursday. According to the latest official report, 169 Afghans were killed as well.
In the video, Scheller challenged senior leaders in the Pentagon to take responsibility for the deadly attack.
Following his criticism of Pentagon leaders, Scheller, who was a battalion commander, was praised by former Marines and family members who said they were not surprised to see him speak out and, most assuredly, derail his career.
“It takes real courage to do what he did and that was Stu all the way,” Juan Chavez of Valparaiso, Ind., who served with Scheller under his commander between 2011 and 2014, said in an interview with The Post.
“He was a magnificent leader, a breath of fresh air, who was always going to do what’s right, even if it goes against the grain,” Chavez added.
Stuart Scheller Sr., the Marine officer’s father, told The Post his son is “the real deal, a Marine’s Marine.”
“People will follow him to the ends of the earth,” he told the outlet. “He has put his life on the line for fellow Marines so putting his career on the line like this does not surprise us.”
Following the Thursday attack which was planned and carried out by an Islamic extremist organization known as ISIS-K, whose members have largely splintered from the Taliban, Scheller’s video, posted to Facebook, went viral.
“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,” Scheller, wearing his uniform, said in the roughly four-and-a-half-minute video.
“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 added.
“I’m not saying we’ve got to be in Afghanistan forever, 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 added.
Scheller went on to specifically call out Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
Scheller Sr. said that though his son has been relieved, “he’s still on the battlefield protecting his men and women.”
“It’s interesting that no one (in the military) has answered his call for accountability. Their answer was to fire him I guess. It’s a sad day for America.”
Scheller has said that he won’t talk to the media at length until he formally leaves the Marine Corps. If he’s allowed to stay in, he has less than three years on active duty to qualify for his 20-year retirement.
Prior to the video, Scheller appears to have had an exemplary career, including proving himself in battle. He has been awarded a Bronze Star with Combat “V” (for valor).
After he posted his video, Scheller defended his actions and his statements though he noted that some of his fellow officers, who were nonetheless supported, had pressed him to remove it.
“Obviously I didn’t take it down,” Scheller wrote. “I’ll offer this … we can’t ALL be wrong. If you all agree … then step up. They only have the power because we allow it. What if we all demanded accountability?”
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