U.S. service members assist with security at an Evacuation Control Check Point (ECC) during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 26, 2021. (Marine Corps/Staff Sergeant Victor Mancilla/Handout via Reuters)
In a video published to Facebook on Friday, one day after the bombing attacks in Kabul that killed 13 U.S. service members and hundreds of Afghan civilians, Marine battalion commander Stuart Scheller voiced his dissatisfaction with the conduct of the U.S. military’s exit from Afghanistan, rebuking the senior officers who oversaw the mission.
“I’m making this video 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,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Scheller posted on Facebook that he has been relieved of duty and will leave the Marine Corps for “cause based on lack of trust and confidence as of 14:30 today.”
“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 said.
Scheller said he considered the potential consequences of speaking out, since public criticism of leadership violates protocol and could result in his being demoted or discharged. He also acknowledged that the video would likely be shared widely online. As of Friday afternoon, it had racked up 15,000 likes and had been viewed 168,000 times on Facebook.
He said he knew personally one of the men who died in the blasts by the Kabul airport, which killed 12 Marines and one Navy medic, but did not share the soldier’s identity. A veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Scheller commands the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to his bio on the U.S. Marines website. He has another personal connection to the current situation in Afghanistan, as his first assignment in 2005 was with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, one of the units deployed to Kabul to facilitate the evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan refugees.
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