NEW YORK: On August 26, Lt. Col Stuart Scheller, an Officer in the US Marine Corps did something no officer ever did - publicly bash senior military leaders on social media. In a now-viral video posted on Facebook, Scheller said, "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"." Just over a day later, he was relieved of his duties.
The Afghanistan crisis has heralded a wave of criticism of President Joe Biden, including from former servicemembers. Sgt. William Bee, the iconic Afghan war veteran went even further, by slamming Bush, Obama, and Trump as well for the crisis. Former President Donald Trump weighed in as well, calling Biden a "surrenderer-in-chief." On August 20, we also reported on another viral video, where an Afghan woman slammed Biden for the Taliban takeover.
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Former intelligence, congressional, and service members have also been quick to slam the intelligence failure, and a few have even slammed the military. However, so far, the top brass has avoided being publicly named and shamed over the crisis. All that changed on August 26, after Scheller called them out in his video. He became the first active-duty Marine officer to slam the Secretary of Defence, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior leaders over the Afghanistan crisis. Despite being warned by his fellow Marines, Scheller didn't take the video down and was subsequently relieved of his duties.
Vice President Kamala Harris seen next to President Joe Biden along with senior military and intelligence leaders at a meeting to discuss the Afghanistan crisis. (@VP/Twitter)
Who is Lt. Col Stuart Scheller?
A resident of Jacksonville, North Carolina, Scheller served as the Battalion Commander for Advanced Infantry Training Battalion (AITB). It appears he is based out of the School of Infantry East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was moved to that role in June 2021, after spending a year with the 6th Marine regiment. His LinkedIn profile says he also served as an XO in the Special Operations Command, after working his way up through various other roles. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Scheller also graduated with a Master's degree from the Marine Corps Univerisity.
In a 17-year long career, Scheller also served two tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Since joining the Marine Corps in 2005, he has also been awarded the Bronze Star and an Army Commendation Medal. Apart from a long and distinguished career, that included several stints at The Basic School, Scheller is also an entrepreneur. He founded The Perfect Ribbon, a company that prepares ribbons for military officers, and is run by veterans.
Lt. Col Stuart Scheller (Stuart Scheller/Facebook)
He decided to put all that on the line when he came out against the leadership in his viral video. "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," he said in a Facebook post. He also hinted his career with the Marines could be over, saying, "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."
Why was Scheller relieved?
"I have been relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence," he revealed in a Facebook post. The reason being his damning video. He said he was making the video "for my growing discontent and contempt for my perceived ineptitude at the foreign policy level." Scheller named the Secretary of Defence, and the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff in his video and said, "did any of you throw your rank on the table and say "hey, it's a bad idea to evacuate Bagram airfield"?" He also asked why they couldn't acknowledge that they "messed this up."
"Potentially all those people did die in vain if we don't have senior leaders who own up," he continued. Scheller ended by saying, "I have been fighting for 17 years. I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders - I demand accountability." At the time of reporting, the video garnered over 35k shares and 33k reactions on Facebook. He didn't seem shocked, or upset when he was relieved either. "My chain of command is doing exactly what I would do. if I were in their shoes," he said in a Facebook post.
"There is a forum in which Marine leaders can address their disagreements with the chain of command, but it's not social media," Maj. Jim Stenger, Marine Corps spokesperson told The Daily Mail. It's unclear what Scheller will do now, and if his career with the Marines is over for good. If it is, he always has his business to go back to, and could even turn to politics as numerous veterans have in recent years.