On Friday, U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was relieved of his command after he shared a now-viral video, demanding accountability from U.S. military senior leadership for their handling of the U.S. withdrawal and evacuation operations from Afghanistan after 13 U.S. service members were killed in an attack on the Kabul airport.
In a video he originally shared to his personal LinkedIn page, Scheller said he was willing to risk his own military career to demand accountability from military leadership after the attack on the Kabul airport.
In his original video criticizing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Scheller called out a number of U.S. military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“We have a secretary of defense who testified to Congress in May that the Afghan National Security Force will withstand the Taliban advance,” Scheller said.
Later in his video, Scheller added, “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? 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?’”
Throughout his video, Scheller acknowledged that his open criticism of military leadership could harm his career.
“I think what you believe in can only be defined by what you’re willing to risk,” Scheller said. “So if I’m willing to risk my current battalion commander seat, my retirement, my family’s stability to say some of the things that I want to say I think it gives me some moral high ground to demand the same honesty, integrity and accountability from my senior leaders.”
The day after Scheller shared his video, he announced in a Facebook post that he had been relieved of his battalion commander position. He had been the battalion commander for the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion (AITB).
Scheller said, “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. 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. Semper.”
In a second Facebook post, Scheller said, “I can’t possibly respond to the overwhelming response. Facebook has stopped allowing me to accept friend requests. But I’ll offer you one more thought… Last night when I posted the video I immediately had multiple Marines call and ask me to take down the post. ;We all agree with you Stu, but nothing will change, and it will come at a huge personal cost to you.’ 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,” Scheller added. “What if we all demanded accountability?
‘Every generation needs a revolution’ – Thomas Jefferson.”