Lt Col Stuart P. Scheller, the commander of Advanced Infantry Training Battalion East for the United States Marine Corps has officially been relieved of duty after his viral video criticizing senior leaders made waves on social media.
According to a post made to his Facebook page, Lt Col Stuart P. Scheller has been relieved of his command at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion. The reason he was relieved of command was due to "a lack of trust and confidence," which is ironic considering the contents of the video he posted to social media which directly called on senior leaders within the United States Military to take accountability for their failures in Afghanistan over the past 90-days.
Scheller says he will not be taking any press interviews or making any further statements outside of the single Facebook post where he announced he had been relieved of command until he has exited service. The Marine Corps announced that Scheller was relieved “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command,” according to Maj. Jim Stenger, a spokesman at Headquarter Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. In the same press release, Maj. Jim Stenger said “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.”
Hot Take: (This is where my opinion begins.) Headquarters Marine Corps is absolutely shook by what Scheller had to say, because they know that everything he said is absolutely true. The Battalion Commander level space in the Marine Corps is now comprised of men and women who lead the fights in both Iraq and Afghanistan as Platoon and Company level commanders. They are now being lead by the same absent-minded individuals who did everything in their power to tie their hands and the hands of their Marines behind their backs for the duration of both conflicts.
Was Scheller out of line for requesting mast to the public via Facebook? Maybe. Does that make anything Scheller questioned or stated in his video any less true? Not really. As a Marine, it's his duty to live by the Marine Corps' core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. What I see in the video above is a Marine Commander doing his job, asking questions he's entitled to ask, and doing it in a forum where it can't be swept under a bureaucratic rug by the officers appointed over him. To me, him being relieved of command for "a lack of trust and confidence," is the biggest tell of all.
Our commanders are selling out their people for their own personal gain.
The largest lack of trust and confidence in the entire U.S. Military can be found sitting in the General Officer Corps at the Pentagon, hiding behind desks and writing themselves medals for a failed Global War on Terror with the blood of 27 dead and injured Americans on the tip of their pen. Marines will do what Marines always have done, and always will do. They'll self-replicate an amphibious maritime fighting force tailor-made to tear the throats of our enemy out, and they'll do everything in their power to win wars with said amphibious maritime fighting force. They can only do the last part of that mission however, if they can trust in their own leadership. Right now, the highest echelons of both non-commissioned and commissioned leadership are absolutely failing them, and not a single person is going to attempt to hold them accountable for their failures, and not a single one of them will stand up and take responsibility.
It took them less than 24-hours to relieve a good commander from his billet for expressing his contempt and asking questions in a public forum where he could control the conversation. It's been a little over 90-days since the largest failure in American Warfighting History happened, and not a single leader responsible for it, commissioned or non-commissioned, has even attempted to take accountability for their actions.
On a personal note to Lt Col Stuart P. Scheller, if they make you take the video down off of Facebook because of bad optics, don't worry, we've already backed it up on our privately hosted video platform, where the Pentagon has absolutely no control over the distribution. So has the rest of the internet. Thank you for being a good leader. Thank you for putting it all on the table for your people.
To anyone in the General Officer Corps, or any singular E-9 reading this, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces deserve better than what you're giving them right now. Do better. Be better. Service is not about taking what you can for your own personal gain. You should know this.