A Marine went viral for a Facebook video demanding senior U.S. leaders be held accountable for the Afghanistan withdrawal, specifically the deaths of 13 American service members and the 18 who were wounded. Less than 24 hours after posting the scathing video ripping top U.S. military leadership, the Marine in the video that has hundreds of thousands of views has been relieved of duty.
Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller posted a blistering video to Facebook and LinkedIn on Thursday. Scheller, who has been in the USMC for 17 years, questioned the decision-making by top U.S. military leadership, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, and Marine Commandant Gen. David H. Berger.
Scheller noted that one of the 13 U.S. service members who died at the terrorist attacks in Kabul was someone with who he has a "personal friendship with."
"I'm not making this video because it's potentially an emotional time," Scheller said in the video. "I'm making it because I have a growing discontent and contempt for my perceived ineptitude at the foreign policy level and I want to specifically ask some questions to some of my senior leaders."
"I'm not saying we need 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?'"
Scheller read an Aug. 18 letter from Gen. David H. Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, regarding the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Scheller disagreed vehemently with the message of the letter and blamed "senior leaders" for letting the country down.
"The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down," Scheller stated. "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.'"
Scheller admitted in the video that he has a "lot to lose" by posting the video. He noted that he was willing to risk "my current battalion commander seat, my retirement, my family's stability" to say what he wanted to say, and provide him "some moral high ground to demand the same honesty, integrity, accountability from my senior leaders."
On Friday afternoon, Scheller announced that he was relieved of his services.
"I have been relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence as of 14:30 today," the father-of-three said in a Facebook post. "My chain of command is doing exactly what I would do… if I were in their shoes."
"I appreciate the opportunities AITB command provided," he added.
"America has many issues… but it's my home… it's where my three sons will become men," Scheller wrote. "America is still the light shining in a fog of chaos."
Scheller was stationed at the School of Infantry East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In June, he took over the post as the AITB commander. According to his official USMC profile, Scheller was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and Afghanistan in 2010.
Editor's note: This story orginially referred to Scheller as a Lt. Gen. He is, however, a Lt. Col. We regret the error.