A Marine officer recently criticized the leadership decisions when people were being evacuated out of Kabul, Afghanistan, last month. The same Marine officer made some more noise online when he called for the prosecution of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) commander for dereliction of duty.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who remains on active duty, caught attention online and became viral regarding his criticism. Last Thursday, Scheller released a video saying, “To recap my position, in the fallout of Afghanistan I demanded accountability in my senior leaders and I stated then that I understood that I might lose my battalion commander seat, my retirement, and my family’s stability. As it has played out, I have in-fact lost all three of those things.”
In conclusion, Scheller said that a court-martial was not pursued regarding his critical remarks because the Marines offered him a non-judicial punishment and separation under honorable conditions as long as he was willing to give up his commission and not fight for his retirement anymore, American Military News reported.
Scheller noted, however, that he cannot let this go, and he will not take the offer because he feels like there are “general officers in our institution who aren’t being held accountable.” He noted in his video that Secretary of State Antony Blinken was called before Congress last week to testify about the decisions regarding the withdrawal of U.S. military troops from Afghanistan, “but no one within military leadership had similarly offered testimony before Congress.”
Scheller went on to talk about Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie and his suggestion that the former be prosecuted for dereliction of duty.
Scheller said, “You made comments that are public record on August 31st, that stated you made bad assumptions, that you left hundreds of Americans in Afghanistan, and then you itemized pieces of equipment that total hundreds of millions of dollars. I know you are a great American. I know you didn’t intend to fail. I know you have served very honorably and are probably a great leader. That doesn’t absolve you from the accountability of your bad assumptions.”
Scheller further pointed out that because it appears to him that no general officers are willing to hold each other accountable, he is submitting charges against McKenzie for his “bad assumptions” not because he is vindictive, “but because the senior leaders need to be held accountable to the same standard as us.” McKenzie is the commander of the CENTCOM, whose operations include the Middle East and Afghanistan.
It is unclear if Scheller’s charge against McKenzie will hold water, but a CENTCOM spokesperson said that only a commander with court-martial convening authority may refer such charges to a court-martial.