OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A United States Marine was relieved of duty after demanding that his leadership, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, take responsibility for the Afghanistan disaster.
Lt. Col Stuart Scheller, a battalion commander, shared a near 5-minute video on Facebook on Thursday asking for top brass to take accountability, The New York Post reported.
The marine read and responded to a part of a message from Marine Corps commandant Gen. David H. Berger addressing the Taliban taking over Afghanistan after the United States decided to withdraw troops.
“And sir, you wrote ‘Some of you may be struggling with the simple question ‘was it all worth it? We want you to know that your service is meaningful, powerful and important. You fought for the Marine to your left and the Marine to your right. You never let them down.’
“Then you go on to say that if we’re struggling, we should seek counseling. Which, you know, I get it. People have killed people. I’ve killed people, and I seek counseling, and that’s fine. There’s a time and place for that,” the marine said.
“The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down. That service member always rose to the occasion and has done extraordinary things. 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.’
“If an O-5 battalion commander has the simplest live fire incident, EO complaint. Boom. Fired,” he said.
“But we have a secretary of defense that testified to Congress in May that the Afghan National Security Forces could withstand the Taliban advance. We have Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs — who the commandant is a member of that — who’s supposed to advise on military policy. We have a Marine combatant commander. All of these people are supposed to advise.
“And 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?’” he said.
The video had 42,000 shares as of Saturday and Scheller said he knew that he could face consequences for it when he announced that he had been relieved of duty on Friday.
“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.,” he said.
“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,” he said.
The Marine Corps confirmed to Task & Purpose that Scheller was relieved “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command,” Maj. Jim Stenger, a spokesman for Headquarters Marine Corps, said.
“This is obviously an emotional time for a lot of Marines, and we encourage anyone struggling right now to seek counseling or talk to a fellow Marine,” he said. “There is a forum in which Marine leaders can address their disagreements with the chain of command, but it’s not social media.”