Lt. Col. Scheller to remain in the brig until next week without charges

Lt. Col. Scheller to remain in the brig until next week without charges

Outspoken Marine slammed Pentagon's handling of Afghan pullout

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Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, USMC, is seen in this screen capture from his Aug. 27, 2021, Facebook video, wherein he criticized senior military leadership and its handling of the evacuation of Kabul in light of the deadly suicide bombing attack … more >

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By Mike Glenn

The Washington Times

Friday, October 1, 2021

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller will remain in the brig until at least next week following an initial hearing into his insubordination case Thursday at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Lt. Col. Scheller, a combat veteran with 17 years in the Marine Corps, is in pre-trial confinement and facing four possible charges: contempt toward officials; willfully disobeying a superior officer; failure to obey an order, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. The charges stem from several media posts and videos he released in recent weeks openly and sharply criticizing senior military commanders over their handling of the war in Afghanistan.

When given a “gag order” to stop his posts, Lt. Col. Scheller discussed that as well online.

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Marine Corps officials and his defense team both agreed to put the next hearing on hold until next week. The delay will allow the parties to seek a joint resolution of the matter, according to someone familiar with the case who asked to remain anonymous because of a Marine Corps-imposed gag order.

While he has yet to be charged, Marine Corps officials say they consider him a flight risk and believe China may intend to use his comments as propaganda. But he has also become a cause celebre for some who support his criticisms.

In addition to almost 23,000 people who contributed to his legal defense, Lt. Col. Scheller has some powerful backers on Capitol Hill. Almost three dozen lawmakers wrote to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger this week questioning how the case is being handled. Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, called the decision to jail the Marine lieutenant colonel before any charges had been filed “completely unwarranted.”

“It is tragic that such swift action has been taken against Lt. Col. Scheller for his demands for accountability from military leadership due to their disastrous and deadly handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Mr. Gohmert said in a statement.

By Friday, supporters raised almost $2 million for his defense. He was three years away from securing a 20-year retirement pension when he released his first video soon after the August 26 suicide bombing at Kabul’s international airport during the rushed U.S. military withdrawal, an attack that killed 13 American military personnel and over 160 Afghan civilians.

Lt. Col. Scheller said he was willing to continue serving his time in the brig if it will give “peace of mind” to Marine Corps officials while allowing negotiations for an “honorable departure” to continue. He told supporters that the staff at the Marine Brig on Camp Lejeune are treating him well, a source said.

In one of his videos, Lt. Col. Scheller said he was considering filing a court-martial case against Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, over his handling of the Afghan endgame. Gen. McKenzie has faced tough questions on Capitol Hill about the end of the Afghan war effort and the rapid collapse of the government and U.S.-trained and equipped army.

Some Republicans in Washington have accused Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his aides of trying to purge anyone with a conservative or traditional viewpoint from the military — a charge denied by the Pentagon. But, the videos and social media posts released by Lt. Col. Scheller were not particularly partisan. He criticized Democrats and Republicans alike, including former Presidents Trump and Obama, along with a number of active-duty and retired generals, such as former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Mr. Gohmert called for the immediate release of Lt. Col. Scheller from pre-trial confinement.

“The military’s treatment of Lt. Col. Scheller has been shamefully political and retaliatory and must not be tolerated,” he said in a statement.

 

Report: ‘Woke’ Navy brass not focusing on fighting, winning wars

Report: ‘Woke’ Navy brass not focused on fighting, winning wars

GOP report says service risk-averse, media-obsessed

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In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) render honors to Battleship Missouri Memorial during the official ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the Japanese surrender that ended World War … more >

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By Mike Glenn

The Washington Times

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Top Navy leaders are more interested in micromanaging subordinates than sinking enemy vessels, are increasingly risk-averse, can’t maintain their own ships and overreact to any negative news story, no matter how ridiculous.

Those are some of the harsh findings from the just-released  “Fighting Culture of the Navy’s Surface Fleet,” a damning report by a retired Navy rear admiral and retired Marine Corps lieutenant general that was commissioned by four Republican lawmakers concerned about what they say is an increasingly “woke” U.S. military.

The report surveyed 77 current and recently retired Navy personnel, both enlisted and officers, for their insights into the Navy’s current culture and whether it was at least partially responsible for a recent series of high-profile operational failures in the surface warfare community.

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“This sentiment, that the Navy is dangerously off course, was overwhelming,” said the authors of the report, retired Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery and retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert E. Schmidle.

Republicans Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana, Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin commissioned the survey. Mr. Cotton, an outspoken critic of diversity and inclusivity initiatives at the Pentagon, called the findings “very concerning.”

“Our sailors are too often deprived of the training and leadership they need to fight and win at sea. A Navy that puts lethality, warfighting and operational excellence at the heart of its culture is absolutely essential to our national security,” Mr. Cotton said.

The review was ordered following a series of negative incidents for the service, including the loss of the USS Bonhomme Richard in a fire, the fatal collision of the USS McCain in the South China Sea and the USS Fitzgerald near Japan, and the surrender of two small Navy patrol boats to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy in the Arabian Gulf.

A mid-grade Navy officer interviewed by the authors said there is a lack of fighting spirit in the Navy’s surface community.

“The Navy does not promote or advance surface ship warfighting in a meaningful way. Finding and sinking enemy fleets should be the principal purpose of a Navy,” the authors said. “Many sailors found their leadership distracted, captive to bureaucratic excess and rewarded for the successful execution of administrative functions rather than their skills as a warfighter.”

On Tuesday, Navy spokesman Rear Admiral Charles W. Brown said the service “welcomes the insights” from the report and noted that many of the findings are consistent with issues officials have already addressed and taken action on.

“We look forward to continuing our work with Congress to ensure we have the most capable ships crewed by the most capable sailors, as well as a surface force that is fit for the challenges of the 21st century,” Adm. Brown said.

The report also took a jab at the current “woke” culture in the Navy. Sailors are increasingly seeing administrative and non-combat-related training as the mission rather than the mission itself, the authors wrote.

“Sometimes I think we care more about whether we have enough diversity officers than if we’ll survive a fight with the Chinese,” a Navy lieutenant on active duty told the authors. “They think my only value is as a black woman. But you cut our ship open with a missile and we’ll all bleed the same color.”

The report found that almost 94% of the sailors being interviewed believe the Navy suffers from a crisis of leadership and culture. Sailors told the authors the surface fleet has suffered a “critical loss of focus” from its primary purpose of fighting and winning wars.

Frustration among the interview subjects was also palpable any time the media was mentioned. The current “unyielding news environment” could bear some responsibility for the rise of the Navy’s “one-mistake” culture, many respondents said.

“Many news outlets, including defense news outlets, have shifted to tabloid models where stories are sensationalized and short-lived,” the authors wrote. “The Navy has forgotten how to differentiate between stories that are ignorable and stories that demand corrective measures.”

Some of the sailors said they believe that Navy leaders are “easily cowed” by the press and will throw sailors to the wolves should their names appear in print.

“Editorial standards for newsworthiness have loosed significantly, saturating audiences with empty calorie news – stories that have emotional appeal but are not particularly informative,” the authors wrote.

The findings of the report suggest junior Navy sailors aren’t receiving the training they need to perform the essential functions of the Navy — find and sink enemy fleets and ensure freedom of navigation in international waters, said Mr. Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL.

“We must immediately address the concerns detailed in the report,” Mr. Crenshaw said. “I look forward to working with Navy leadership and my colleagues in Congress to implement the changes necessary to ensure our Navy and our sailors are war-ready and capable of defending the United States.”