A U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel was fired for posting a video that went viral on his Facebook account criticizing poor decisions made by the Pentagon’s senior leadership in the military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, a Marine Corps battalion commander, used his Facebook account to demand accountability from his superiors for the failed military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Last Aug. 26, the lives of 13 U.S. military personnel and at least 170 civilians were lost in an ISIS-K terrorist attack at Kabul airport.
Scheller began his video by introducing himself as an officer with 17 years of service in the Marine Corps stationed in Afghanistan. He explained that one of the servicemen killed in the attack was someone close to him and laid out the reasons for his video.
“I am not making this video because it is potentially an emotional time, I’m making it because I have a growing discontent and contempt from my perceived ineptitude at the foreign policy level and I want to specifically ask some questions,” Scheller said.
The officer is aware that releasing a video questioning his superiors could have serious consequences for his career, family stability, and future. Still, he assures that “what you believe in, can only be defined on what you want to risk.”
“I think it gives me some moral high ground to demand the same honesty, integrity, accountability from my senior leaders,” Scheller weighed in.
The lieutenant colonel gave context for what is happening with Marines who recently began posting on social media about their anger or frustration with the failed military departure from Afghanistan. Navy Commandant Gen. David H. Berger responded by sending a letter to all Marines telling them that the service members’ sacrifices were not made in vain and that they should seek counseling if needed.
Scheller rejects Berger’s idea that Marines need counseling in the current context.
“The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marines in the battlefield has let someone down,” the lieutenant colonel asserts. “People are upset because their senior leaders let them down, and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘We messed this up.’”
Scheller singled out Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who swore before Congress that the Afghan government would have the ability to stop the Taliban advance during a U.S. withdrawal. He also flagged Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley for failing to properly advise the president on how best to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
Scheller’s remarks to his superiors are very similar to statements made by North Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. In an interview with Newsmax, he criticized the Biden administration for suddenly abandoning the Bagram military airbase before evacuating Americans and allies.
“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?'”
The Marine, along with his military colleagues, wonder if all the lives lost these past 20 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan were in vain.
“Potentially all those people did die in vain if we don’t have senior leaders that own up and raise their hands and say, ‘we did not do this well in the end,’” the lieutenant colonel lamented.
Scheller concluded his video with the following message: “I want to say this very strongly: I have been fighting for 17 years, I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders: I demand accountability.”
The officer’s video went viral and was shared nearly 50,000 times and has 45,000 comments of support from people and according to Scheller, Facebook is no longer letting him accept friend requests.
The day after his video was posted, his story made headlines worldwide.
Scheller shared that he was relieved of his duties from the military.
“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,” Scheller wrote. “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 Corp.”
The officer made yet another post on his Facebook account on Aug. 27, saying that many military colleagues called him to tell him they agreed with him. However, they advised him to take down the video because it was a significant risk for his career and that he could not do anything to change what was happening.
And his response was, “Obviously I didn’t take it down. Now that I’ve had time to process … 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?”