A United States Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who posted a video demanding that military leaders account for the evacuation of Afghanistan has been relieved of his duties and will be leaving U.S. service. the marines and the officer involved said Friday.
Stuart Scheller posted his video to Facebook and LinkedIn on Thursday, U.S. Military Day 13, 11 of them Marines, and reportedly as many as 170 Afghans, were killed in a suicide bombing attack at Kabul airport.
“I’ve been fighting for 17 years,” said Scheller, then commander of the advanced infantry training battalion. “I am ready to throw it all away to tell my senior leaders, ‘I demand accountability. “
Scheller said he knew someone who had been killed in Kabul, but was making his video “because I have growing discontent and contempt for … perceived incompetence in foreign policy, and I specifically want to ask a few questions of some of my senior executives ”.
Scheller said he was “willing to risk my current seat as battalion commander, my retirement, the stability of my family to say some of the things I want to say.” Doing so, he said, would give him “a certain morality to demand the same honesty, the same integrity and the same responsibility from my top leadership.”
Scheller criticized the commander of the Marine Corps, David Berger, for a note sent to the Marines on what they might think of the nearly 20-year American presence in Afghanistan.
“I’ve killed people and I’m looking for advice and that’s great,” Scheller said. “There is a time in place for this. But the reason people are so upset … isn’t because the Marines on the battlefield let someone down … people are upset because their top leadership let them down. And none of them raise their hands and accept accountability or say, “We messed it up. “
“We have a defense secretary [Lloyd Austin, a former army general] who testified to Congress in May that the Afghan national security force could resist the Taliban advance. We have [the] joint heads [of Staff], the commander is one of them, who is supposed to advise on military policy. We have a Marine Combat Commander. All of these people are supposed to advise.
Scheller said he “wasn’t saying we had to be in Afghanistan forever, but I’m saying, ‘Did any of you throw your row on the table and say, hey, this is a bad idea to evacuate Bagram aerodrome, an air base, before evacuating everyone? ‘ Did anyone do this?
“And when you didn’t think about doing it, did somebody put their hand up and say, ‘We totally screwed this up’?
“I have battalion commanding friends right now posting similar things, and… wondering if all lives were lost, if it was in vain… Potentially, all of these people died in vain. If we don’t have senior leaders who recognize and raise their hands and say, “We didn’t do this right in the end,” without it, we’re just repeating the same mistakes.
“This merger of the top military ranks in economics-slash-business-slash-politics-slash-is not holding its end of the bargain. “
The video has gone viral. Less than a day later, Friday afternoon, Scheller said on Facebook that he was “relieved of a cause based on a lack of trust and confidence at 2:30 p.m.” [2.30pm] today “.
He wouldn’t comment until he left the Marine Corps, he said, adding, “My chain of command does exactly what I would do… if I were them. “