My son, shaken and ashen, showed up two hours late for our 2013 Christmas Eve dinner.
He had spent the afternoon at Walter Reed Hospital visiting his former West Point roommate who had lost his legs and part of one hand when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan.
Several months later, I drove my son to the airport. He would deploy to Afghanistan days after that. Thankfully, he was one of the lucky ones.
As we witness the tragedy of the U.S. withdrawal of troops from a theater where so many Americans have served and sacrificed, we are wondering why none of our military leaders will take responsibility.
One Marine officer, Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, has served for 17 years. This puts him just three years away from the 20-year-mark, when a pretty decent pension will kick in.
Following Thursday’s suicide bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport which killed 13 U.S. service members, Scheller put his job on the line to “demand accountability” from his senior leaders.
In the video below, which many readers may have already viewed after it went viral on Thursday, Scheller delivers his message to leaders, and specifically calls out Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.
By Friday, the video had been shared 35,000 times, the New York Post reported.
“The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down. That service member always rose to the occasion and done extraordinary things. 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,’” Scheller said.
“I want to say this very strongly. 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’m not saying we’ve got to be in Afghanistan forever,” he explained. “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 airbase, 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’?”
Predictably, Scheller was fired the next day. In a Friday Facebook post, he wrote, “I have been relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence.”
Scheller’s original video and subsequent announcement was widely circulated on social media and many Americans are now lobbying on his behalf.
Just the News reported that “supporters quickly organized a grass roots campaign to reinstate Scheller.”
This group is led by Anthony Slate who, according to his LinkedIn profile, served in Marine Force Recon, a special operations unit. Slate is asking supporters to contact the Marine Corps directly to demand that Scheller be reinstated.
In a LinkedIn post, Slate wrote: “Here’s the public affairs office for the United States Marine Corps. I suggest we the people contact the Marine Corps and let them know how we feel on the matter!!!!!”
“I suggest if you have a Son or daughter who’s about to join I would have them hold off as the generals in charge do not care about your kids life and will waste it like Biden does our fellow Marines in Afghanistan￼￼!!!,” he added.
“They’ve already relieved one officer who is standing up for Marines what does that tell you about the commanding officers. I suggest stop recruiting until the generals are held accountable that is the only way you will fix what is going on!”
I realize Scheller jumped the chain of command with a very public display while in uniform. But I applaud his courage to risk his career and his pension to bring attention to some very obvious truths.
Despite knowing that President Joe Biden’s foolish decisions would significantly increase the risk to both U.S. troops and American civilians during the withdrawal effort, particularly the abandonment of Bagram Airfield, no one was willing to say ‘No, Mr. President. Respectfully, I must resign.’
In December 2018, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis disagreed so strongly with then-President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria and Afghanistan that he resigned. And if I may say so, he did not do so respectfully, as coverage by The Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets showed.
That was a problem, but it wasn’t a crisis. The Biden administration is a crisis.
In our wildest dreams, we couldn’t have imagined quite how much damage one presidency could inflict on the military in only seven months.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s introduction of woke politics into an organization that was intended to remain as apolitical as possible has diminished our military.
Perhaps nothing has been as dangerous for the country as the politicization of the Department of Defense.
Rather than protecting Americans from foreign enemies, Austin views alleged white supremacy and climate change as the most serious national security threats we face.
We watched incredulously in February as he signed his “stand-down” order to address extremism within the nation’s armed forces. The memo reads: “We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies. Service members, DoD civilian employees, and all those who support our mission, deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment.”
The stand-down order, Austin wrote, is “what I believe must be a concerted effort to better educate ourselves and our people about the scope of this problem and to develop sustainable ways to eliminate the corrosive effects that extremist ideology and conduct have on the workforce.”
Naturally, Austin joined the fight against climate change which he considers to be a threat to our national security.
“Climate change presents a growing threat to U.S. national security interests and defense objectives,” he wrote. “The changing climate is altering the global security and operating environments, impacting our missions, plans and installations… “
The Pentagon has also addressed issues of sexism in the armed forces. Austin has taken measures to make women in the military feel more respected and included going so far as to promote maternity flight suits.
In May, Austin was ghosted by his Chinese counterpart, General Xu Qiliang, the vice-chair of the Central Military Commission and a member of the politburo.
“Three people briefed on the impasse” told The Financial Times that Austin had tried on three occasions to contact Xu, “but China has refused to engage.”
Has Austin (and his country) lost of the respect of his military peers internationally? Do you blame them?
Instead of wasting his (and his staff’s) time on this woke rubbish, Austin should have been formulating a proper withdrawal plan that incorporated the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground in Afghanistan.
Lloyd Austin and the Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Mark Milley should have either convinced Biden to reconsider his orders or resigned. By going along with his stupidity, they are complicit.
Lt. Col. Scheller understands what’s at stake.
The veterans who support him understand it.
And so do the mothers and fathers who watch as young men and women go to war.
It’s not asking too much to want the president and the Pentagon to act like they understand it, too.