A Marine commander was relieved of his duties after he demanded accountability from top military brass in a video posted on social media after the deadly terrorist attack in Kabul Afghanistan. On Thursday, a suicide bomber detonated at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, killing 170 Afghans, and 13 American service members, most of whom were Marines.
Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller, an advanced Infantry Training Battalion commander at Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, N.C., announced that he had been let go on his LinkedIn page.
“To all my friends across the social networks. I have been relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence as of 14:30 today,” he wrote.
Scheller, who said he’s been in the Marine Infantry for 17 years, said he made the video because of the “growing discontent and contempt” he was feeling for the inept senior leaders of the U.S. military and their fatally flawed foreign policy decisions. He said one of the Marines killed in the suicide bombing was a friend he’d worked with in the past.
As someone who was three years short of his military pension, Scheller admitted that he had thought twice about posting the video because he has “a lot to lose,” but in the end he decided, “what you believe in can only be defined by what you’re willing to risk.”
“If I’m willing to risk my current battalion commander seat, my retirement … I think it gives me some moral high ground to demand the same honesty, integrity, and accountability from my senior leaders,” he explained.
In the video, Scheller pulled out a letter from Marine commandant General David Berger to his subordinates dated Aug 18, which advised Marines to “seek counseling” if they were having a problem with the way the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan was going.
While noting that counseling is frequently warranted for servicemen who have had to kill enemy combatants, Scheller pointed out that any Marine’s need for counseling in this case was because of the bad decisions of their superiors.
“People are upset because their senior leaders let them down, and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability, saying we messed this up, ” Scheller complained. “We have a Secretary of Defense [Lloyd Austin] who testified in May that the Afghan National Security Force would withstand the Taliban’s advance.”
Sheller also called out the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs [Mark Milley] over his disastrous decision to shut down Bagram Air Force Base before thousands of Americans and Afghan allies had been evacuated.
“Did anyone raise their hand and say, ‘we completely messed this up,'” Scheller fumed. He said that his Marine friends have been wondering if all of the lives lost over the past 20 years were in vain.
“What I will say is, potentially all of those people did die in vain if we don’t have senior leaders to own up, raise their hand and say, ‘we did not do this well in the end,'” he said. “Without that, we just keep repeating the same mistakes—this amalgamation of the economic/corporate/political/ higher military rank not holding up their end of the bargain,” he added.
Scheller concluded: “I want to say this very strongly. I have been fighting for 17 years. I’m willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders, I demand accountability.”
This Marine officer is an American hero, and far more of a leader than anyone above him in his chain of command right now.
Watch every second of this. https://t.co/sq9gWNGjl6
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) August 27, 2021
In his LinkedIn post on Friday, Scheller said: “My chain of command is doing exactly what I would do… if I were in their shoes.”
I appreciate the opportunities AITB command provided. To all the news agencies asking for interviews… I will not be making any statements other than what’s on my social platforms until I exit the Marine Corps.
America has many issues… but it’s my home… it’s where my three sons will become men. America is still the light shining in a fog of chaos. When my Marine Corps career comes to an end, I look forward to a new beginning. 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.