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.

 

USMC battalion commander relieved of post after blasting Pentagon’s ‘ineptitude’ on Afghanistan

Marine officer relieved of command after blasting Pentagon’s ‘ineptitude’ in Afghanistan

Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller's viral Facebook post comes after 11 Marines killed in Kabul terrorist attack

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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 Ben Wolfgang

The Washington Times

Saturday, August 28, 2021

A Marine Corps battalion commander was relieved of his post late Friday after posting a video to social media blasting the military’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying Pentagon leaders should be held accountable for the foreign policy “ineptitude” seen in the Biden administration.

The blunt video from Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller captured the anger and confusion swirling in much of the country amid America’s chaotic withdrawal from Kabul. Thursday’s attack in Kabul by the terrorist group ISIS-K, which killed 13 U.S. service members and wounded nearly 20 others, has only raised more questions about how White House, State Department and Pentagon leaders allowed America to be put in this position. 

In the video, which has been shared on Facebook more than 45,000 times as of Saturday morning, Lt. Col. Scheller said he was motivated by 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.”

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“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,” an emotional Lt. Col. Scheller said in the post, going on to specifically question the decision to abandon the strategically vital Bagram Air Base before the U.S withdrawal was completed.

“I’m not saying we’ve got to be in Afghanistan forever,” he said. “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 air base, 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?’”

Having given up Bagram, the U.S.-led evacuation effort has been entirely reliant on the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, which has become a prime target for ISIS-K terrorists.

Shortly after the video went viral on social media, Lt. Col. Scheller was relieved of his command.

“Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was relieved of command by Col. David Emmel, Commanding Officer of School of Infantry-East, due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command,” Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger said in a statement. “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. There is a forum in which Marine leaders can address their disagreements with the chain of command, but it’s not social media.”

Lt. Col Scheller clearly expected such consequences.

“I feel like I have a lot to lose,” he said in the video.

The U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed Aug. 15 following a massive military offensive by the Islamist Taliban. The U.S. then launched a frantic effort to evacuate thousands of American citizens and tens of thousands of Afghan allies before President Biden’s self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline to leave the country.

That effort is heavily reliant on the cooperation of the Taliban, which claims to be operating strict checkpoints around the Kabul airport. But those checkpoints failed to stop ISIS-K suicide bombers and gunmen on Thursday from killing 13 U.S. troops and more than 100 Afghans.