Though there are abundant examples of retired and former military officers publicly demanding accountability of the Biden administration over how the horribly bungled and now utterly tragic Afghan draw down and evacuation is going, it’s incredibly rare and almost unheard of to see an active duty officer voice criticisms directed at top Pentagon brass on a public level.
But one high ranking Marine officer has done just that in a now viral video. Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller until Friday was a sitting Marine infantry battalion commander in good standing, but late in the day it’s been confirmed he was promptly relieved of his command over his statements. “I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders, ‘I demand accountability,’” the Lieutenant colonel said in the Facebook video which already racked up millions of views across various platforms.
Following the horrific deaths of 13 American soldiers and over 160 Afghans during yesterday’s suicide attack on Kabul airport, Scheller shredded the “ineptitude” of the military’s top leadership, even questioning whether the entirety of the botched withdrawal and evacuation effort means Americans have “died in vain” over the course of the whole two-decade long war.
His focus in the scathing critique was to question whether top brass stood up to the Biden administration, even while knowing that the administration’s decision-making would lead to chaos, disaster, and possible deaths – as is tragically playing out now…
“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,’” he said.
“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 questioned further. What makes the short video unprecedented and raw is also that he’s in uniform, sitting in what appears to be his base office (such ‘political speech’ in open contradiction of the chain of command while in uniform violates DoD policies). The long-serving officer of 17 years knows this, as he later acknowledged in a short follow-up message. “Did any of you throw your rank on the table…” – and question? …Sheller himself does just that, and is now paying the price for it.
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Politico and others later in the day Friday confirmed that not only was Scheller quickly relieved of command within 24 hours, but that action is being taken which will lead to discharge from the service altogether, likely pending UCMJproceedings.
“I’ve been in the Marine infantry for 17 years. I started my tour with Victor 1-8, that’s the current unit that’s doing perimeter security, dealing with the mess that’s going on there,” Scheller explained in the video.
It’s being widely reported that until being relieved on Friday, he was commander of the School of Infantry East (SOI-EAST) at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
In the video he ripped everyone from top Marine commanders to the Secretary of Defense for failures in Afghanistan which led to more senseless deaths.
“But we have a secretary of defense that testified to Congress in May that the Afghan National Security Forces could withstand the Taliban advance,” he said. “We have Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs — who the commandant is a member of that — who’s supposed to advise on military policy. We have a Marine combatant commander. All of these people are supposed to advise.”
Should things continue to spiral downhill in Kabul over these coming days, possibly with more terror attacks looming, could the American public witness more such symbolic acts of ‘rebellion’ to come within the ranks of active duty US troops against the Biden administration?
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Lt. Col. Scheller’s full video comments can be viewed here.