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Marine officer who demanded accountability from upper brass for Afghan fiasco released from brig

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U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who was stripped of his command after criticizing the disastrous Afghan withdrawal, has been released from the brig after being jailed for allegedly violating a gag order that prevented him from posting online, although no formal charges have been announced.

“Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Jr. is being released from confinement today, Oct. 5, 2021, as a result of a mutual agreement between Lt. Col. Scheller, his Defense counsel, and the Commanding General, Training Command,” Corps spokesman Capt. Sam Stephenson said in a release. “No additional details regarding the agreement may be released at this time.”

While there has been no official release detailing the charges Scheller faces, Task & Purpose reported that the Marine is accused of willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, failure to obey an order, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and showing contempt toward officials.

More than thirty members of Congress signed a letter last week demanding that Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger release the former battalion commander from the brig at Camp Lejeune.

Scheller posted a video last month following the suicide bomb attack at the airport in Kabul that killed 13 U.S. service members, including 11 Marines, and over 100 Afghan civilians. In the video, he called for senior leaders to take responsibility for the Afghan evacuation fiasco, stating, “I demand accountability, at all levels. If we don’t get it, I’m bringing it.”

“The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down,” Scheller added. “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.’”

In a follow-up video shared after he was relieved of his command, Scheller announced that he would resign his commission instead of facing a court-martial — the Corps did not accept the resignation.

A Marine for 17 years, Scheller said he believed the plan “was to hide me away for three years, let an investigation take place but not send me to a board of inquiry where they would have separated me on other than honorable conditions,” adding that he was forfeiting retirement benefits and all other entitlements due to him.

“All I asked for was accountability of my senior leaders when there are clear, obvious mistakes that were made,” he said. “I’m not saying we can take back what has been done. All I asked for was accountability.”

Scheller ended that video with a cryptic message to Americans, “Follow me and we will bring the whole f—ing system down. I am honorable and you can ask any Marine who served with me for 17 years. I dare you to ask them all and find out what I’m made of. We’re just getting started.”

Just before being arrested, Scheller released a video on Sept. 25 that was critical of former President Donald Trump, saying he refused “to kiss the ring because of your following and power.”

“While I respect your foreign policy positions, I hate how you divided the country. I don’t need or want your help. You do not have the ability to pull us together. You may even win the next election, but your generation’s time is running out,” he added.

After he was arrested last week, Scheller’s parents posted a message on social media, saying he does not “deserve this treatment.”

“It is with a heavy heart that we, his parents, are informing you that our son, Lt. Col Stuart Scheller, has been incarcerated by the USMC this morning, September 27, 2021. He was issued a Gag order which he broke this weekend by posting on social media,” the parents said. “Like us, he is a Proud American that has honorably served his nation for seventeen years and was simply asking the system that he dedicated his life to, the Military, to also support him.”

“In thirty days, our son Lt. Col Stuart Scheller went from being an exemplary Marine, handpicked by the Corp and placed in a highly prestigious position as the Commander of the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, to a Marine that is being incarcerated for Demanding ACCOUNTABILITY and INTEGRITY from Military Leadership,” the statement added. “All our son did was ask the questions that everyone was asking themselves, but too scared to speak out loud. He doesn’t deserve this treatment. Recently, Stu asked to resign; The USMC told us, his parents, that our son serves at the pleasure of the President. They have not accepted his resignation.”

As of this writing, the Pipehitter Foundation has raised over $2.5 million in support of Scheller to cover legal fees and other expenses.

Citing his service record, Task & Purpose reported that Lt. Col. Scheller “helped evacuate Americans out of Beirut during the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict, and deployed to Ramadi, Iraq as a company executive officer in 2007. Those deployments were with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, but he also helped clear roads of improvised explosive devices as an explosive ordnance disposal and route clearance expert supporting the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade in Afghanistan in 2010.”

The Marine’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, an Army Commendation Medal with combat “V,” and three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals.

Tom Tillison

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