A Marine lieutenant colonel who was thrown within the brig for posting movies during which he criticizes Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley and different senior navy leaders for his or her function within the Afghanistan withdrawal will plead responsible to a number of fees at his court docket martial Thursday, says his legal professional.
Lt. Col. Stu Scheller is charged with disrespecting superior commissioned officers, willfully disobeying an officer, conduct unbecoming an officer, contempt for his senior leaders and violations of excellent order and self-discipline.
On Aug. 26, Scheller posted a video on social media the place he criticized U.S. navy leaders for the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and demanded accountability for the 13 service members who have been killed in an ISIS bombing. He made the video hours after the assault at Abbey Gate on the Kabul airport. Scheller served in Afghanistan and claimed to know somebody who was killed within the assault.
Within the video, Scheller mentioned, “Individuals are upset as a result of their senior leaders allow them to down, and none of them are elevating their palms and accepting accountability or saying we messed this up.”
“I’ve been combating for 17 years. I’m keen to throw all of it away to say to my senior leaders I demand accountability.”
Quickly after the video posted, Scheller was relieved of command on the Faculty of Infantry at Camp Lejeune, N.C., “attributable to a lack of belief and confidence in his capacity to command,” mentioned Marine Corps spokesperson Maj. Jim Stenger. “That is clearly an emotional time for lots of Marines, and we encourage anybody struggling proper now to hunt counseling or speak to a fellow Marine. There’s a discussion board during which Marine leaders can tackle their disagreements with the chain of command, but it surely’s not social media.”
However Scheller’s video went viral, and regardless of orders to not proceed, Scheller posted a number of extra. In a single he promised to file fees in opposition to the commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, saying, “Senior leaders should be held accountable the identical as us.”
Scheller’s notoriety grew after he dared his commanding officer to arrest him. “I’m prepared for jail,” he mentioned on Fb on Sept. 25, and even instructed the officer to satisfy him at 0800 on Monday morning. Army police did arrest him — and he spent greater than every week in navy jail.
After his arrest, Scheller mentioned he had teamed up with the Pipe Hitter Basis, the non-profit began by former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was pardoned by former President Trump for his function within the homicide of an ISIS prisoner. Collectively, Scheller and the inspiration have raised greater than $2 million for Scheller and his household.
“He hit a nerve with lots of people. You screw up, you need to admit it,” a supply conversant in Scheller’s protection mentioned. Marine officers are taught ethical and bodily braveness, the supply mentioned, and that features “being keen to name it such as you see it and that’s what he did.”
Scheller will plead responsible as an indication of accountability, mentioned his legal professional Tim Parlatore, who additionally represented Gallagher. “He’ll present the generals what accountability appears to be like like.”
Scheller will forfeit greater than $2 million in retirement pay for this resolution, based on his legal professional. He’s asking for an honorable discharge. His particular court docket martial begins Thursday at Camp Lejeune.
As a part of the protection, Scheller’s protection staff plans to invoke current testimony of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Milley, who acknowledged that he spoke with authors of books during which he’s quoted disparaging the commander in chief, former President Trump. The protection plans to argue that whereas Milley just isn’t being held accountable for criticizing his commander, Scheller is being prosecuted for a similar offense.
A supply conversant in Scheller’s protection mentioned, “[Scheller] is accused of doing what [Milley] and others admitted they’ve executed.”
Parlatore mentioned, “There’s no query there’s a double commonplace right here.”
In accordance with the cost sheets, obtained by the navy weblog Activity and Goal, the Marine Corps alleges Scheller made statements that appear to incite protest, comparable to “each technology wants a revolution.” Pentagon rules restrict service members from protesting and advocating for revolution. The costs, nonetheless, relate to his movies, and his alleged assertion about revolution doesn’t seem within the movies.
Parlatore known as allegations that his shopper was inciting revolution “an entire distraction.”
“This case is about accountability and the failure of Pentagon management within the conduct and withdrawal from Afghanistan. The one strategy to keep away from that’s change the topic so that they wish to speak about January 6,” Parlatore mentioned.
He didn’t dispute Activity and Goal’s characterization of the contents of the cost sheets.
Parlatore acknowledged that Scheller had conversations concerning the Jan. 6 Capitol rebel, however described one case as “an off-hand dialogue” with a colleague concerning the safety posture and his perception that the group was not intent on violence. He described the dialog as anticipated for a safety and navy skilled.
In a Sept. 16, 2021, video Scheller known as for change within the navy. Talking on to the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger, Scheller mentioned an awakening must happen on the normal officer stage.
In the identical video Scheller mentioned the Marine Corps provided him “a particularly reasonable deal,” together with non-judicial punishment slightly than court docket martial and an settlement to surrender his retirement pay and resign his fee. Scheller would settle for a normal discharge beneath honorable situations. He acknowledged that making that video “may destroy that deal.”
Scheller maintains navy leaders must be held accountable for his or her resolution to shut Bagram Airbase, which he believes contributed to the chaos at Kabul Airport. His legal professional insists this isn’t a political endeavor and that Scheller doesn’t criticize political leaders. He does reward two Republican congressmen, Rep. Brian Mast of Florida and Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, in a single video, however many of the criticisms are centered on navy leaders.
The Marine Corps declined to touch upon the Scheller court docket martial or verify that any deal was provided. Gen. Milley declined to remark.