An active duty Marine Corps lieutenant colonel was relieved of his duties Friday after publicly demanding leadership take accountability for the deadly disaster in Afghanistan.
Lt. Col Stuart Scheller called out Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and others for not ‘raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, “We messed this up.”‘
‘The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down,’ Scheller said in a nearly five-minute video posted on Facebook and LinkedIn.
‘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.”‘
Marine Corp Lt. Col. Stuart Steller said in a widely shared video that military leaders need to take accountability for botched, fatal evacuation out of Afghanistan
Follow up post to the video where Scheller said he was relived of his duty
The video has been shared on Facebook over 23,000 times by Friday evening and has over 3,100 comments, most of which are supporting Scheller’s bravery for speaking out.
It’s unheard of for an active duty Marine commander to publicly rip ranking military leaders and political officials.
In the video, he said he knew he was risking his stellar 17-year career that included tours in Iraq and Afghanistan by posting the video, but he still ran head-on into metaphorical gunfire.
‘I have been fighting for 17 years. I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders, “I demand accountability.”‘
‘I think what you believe in can only be defined by what you’re willing to risk,’ he said. So, I think it gives me some moral high ground to demand the same honesty, integrity, accountability from my senior leaders.’
Scheller was relieved of his duties as a battalion commander after a stellar 17-year career. ‘I have been fighting for 17 years. I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders, “I demand accountability,”‘ he said
Scheller said in the video that he lost someone who he had a personal relationship with during in Thursday’s suicide bombing
The 13 U.S. service members killed in the Kabul blast
Max Soviak, 22, Navy corpsman from Berlin Heights, Ohio
Soviak was a 2017 graduate of Edison High School, where he played football, according before eventually moving to Guam.
Soviak described himself on Instagram as a ‘patriot’ and his pictures showed him enjoying an active lifestyle on boats, beaches, and mountains.
He was also proud of his military service, posting photos with his fellow servicemen and commenting on photos of his friends.
Rylee McCollum, 20, Lance Corporal in the Marines from Riverton, Wyoming
McCollum loved the military from the age of three, and at the age of 18 brought his father Jim the enlistment forms to sign.
He loved American history, and enjoyed wrestling, mixed martial arts, and training children in the sport.
McCollum’s goal after the Marines was to become a history teacher and wrestling coach, his father said.
He married Jiennah in the summer of 2020, and their first child is due in September.
David Lee Espinoza,
Lt. Col. Scheller said he had a personal relationship with one of the Marines who died in Thursday’s ISIS-K bombing and ‘potentially, all those people did die in vain’ if the leaders don’t take ownership of the debacle.
He said a major strategic error was not securing Bagram air base before evacuating people.
Instead, the US relied on the Kabul airport as the only way to fly out of the country.
On Friday, military experts have pinpointed the sudden, overnight withdrawal of US troops from Bagram on July 2 as the moment the US gave Afghanistan away.
In a follow up post later in the day Friday, he said was relieved of his duties.
Maj. Jim Stenger, Marine Corps spokesperson, told DailyMail.com in a statement that 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.’
‘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,’ Maj. Stenger said.
In a Facebook post, Steller said, ‘My chain of command is doing exactly what I would do if I were in their shoes,’ the Marine commander said in his Facebook post.
‘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.’
Pentagon officials said on Friday that there was only one suicide bomber at Kabul airport on Thursday and not two, as was previously claimed, adding to confusion over the attack and fears for the ongoing operation on the ground.
Speaking at a briefing on Friday, Army General Hank Taylor said: ‘I can confirm that we do not believe there was a second explosion at or near the Baron hotel. It was one suicide bomber. In the confusion of very dynamic events can cause information to get confused,’ he said.
He did not say whether the bomb that went off was car bomb or bomber in a vest. Both were described on Thursday on the ground and by Washington officials. The Pentagon’s Press Secretary, John Kirby, was among those who confirmed both of the blasts.
At the same briefing on Friday, Kirby revealed that thousands of terrorists from ISIS-K, the group responsible for the attack at the airport, escaped from Bagram prison earlier this summer after Biden’s troops cleared out from the base in July, leaving it to outnumbered Afghan forces to supervise them.
The prisoners were filmed being freed by the Taliban on August 15.
Thirteen US troops were killed along with 170 Afghans at the airport on Thursday when a single suicide bomber detonated his vest. The first four have been named; Navy medic Max Soviak and Marines Rylee McCollum, David Lee Espinoza and Kareem Nikoui.