Retired U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, the Marine infantry officer who demanded accountability from military leaders during the chaotic final U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, said last week that he plans to run for office in 2024.
Scheller gained viral attention in August and September as he made multiple videos and social media posts calling out military leaders for their handling of the Afghan withdrawal. Scheller released his first video on the day 13 U.S. troops were killed by a suicide bomber while providing security for evacuation efforts at the Kabul airport. Scheller was ultimately court-martialed for his critical comments and he pled guilty to all six of the misdemeanor level offenses.
Now, after gaining national attention, Scheller is eyeing a run for public office. Scheller described his political aspirations in a Thursday interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast.
Scheller told podcast host John Solomon he never intended his viral videos to be a political jumping-off point. “It was always apolitical for me and it just seems like a lot of Republicans supported me because Biden was the president.”
Scheller, who was discharged from the Marine Corps last month, went on to say he probably doesn’t have “the physical, mental, spiritual endurance right now to jump into a race,” in 2022. “So what I plan on doing is supporting this coalition that I built — and it’s still growing — and I’ll probably jump into a race in ’24.”
Scheller said he’ll “take a knee” during the 2022 election cycle and support other military veteran candidates through an organization he started called Votes For Vets.
When Solomon pressed Scheller further on the possibility of running for elected office in 2024, Scheller said, “I’m sure I will. I mean, what else am I going to do? I can’t go fishing.”
Describing his political views, Scheller said he has an interest in politics and “I am a conservative, but I think we need leaders and not politicians.”
Scheller also said, “Biden has a lot of problems, and he’s not, in my opinion, very good.” Scheller then said while a president can be held accountable through voting, but accountability for the military is less straightforward and often has to come from within the institution.
The “military on the tactical level is very effective,” Scheller said. “Where we are failing wars is at the operational level and the strategic level. And that’s the general-officer-to-the-political-realm link that’s just consistently failing. And I think that starts with accountability. I think if you hold senior leaders accountable, you’d be more effective.”
While he was still in the Marine Corps, Scheller called for charges of dereliction of duty against U.S. Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversaw military operations in Afghanistan.
During his interview with Solomon, Scheller said McKenzie should face accountability for the withdrawal from Afghanistan because it was his job to convince the president of “the best course of action” during the withdrawal.
“Or, if [the plan is] just not executable, and you can’t pull it off,” Scheller continued, “you resign, or you assume responsibility and accountability for the resources applied to you by that civilian leadership. Like there is no fourth option. There’s no, like, then the plan fails, and everyone just points at each other, and that’s that. That is not acceptable.”
During his interview, Scheller also criticized Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“What really is deeply troubling to me . . . you’ve got a secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, who comes in and spends 100 days orienting to all of these problems — I could list off so many deep systemic problems in the military — and then he publicly announces ‘alright, I’ve done my problem framing and decided the biggest problem facing the [Department of Defense] is COVID,'” Scheller said. “And I just like wanted to put my head through the wall.”
Scheller went on to list a series of military concerns, such as concluding wars like the one in Afghanistan and resolving spending and procurement problems.
Scheller also described “senior general officers exacerbating the oligopoly between the government contracting companies” and noted Austin was on the Raytheon board of directors between serving as an officer in the military and serving as the defense secretary.
“For him to take COVID and make that his focus,” Scheller continued. “Like I just don’t know if these guys are don’t understand the problems facing the military or if they’re just singing the political narrative, but either way it’s unacceptable.”