Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller finds himself behind bars today, awaiting court martial for a social media post condemning the United States’ Afghanistan withdrawal.
Lt. Col. Scheller knew his comments would, in all likelihood, herald the end of his military career and forfeit military retirement benefits.
However, Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw explains why Scheller should have expected more:
The Marine Corps confirmed that Scheller is “in pre-trial confinement in the Regional Brig for Marine Corps Installations East aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune pending an Article 32 preliminary hearing.” As Jim notes, they will very likely take him to Court Martial on an Article 88 charge under the UCMJ, but there are a few more they could probably tack on for good measure if they’re feeling vindictive.
I’ll address the two questions that Jim asks in the excerpt above before getting to the unpleasant conclusions. Was his public criticism morally wrong? Hardly. As far as I’m concerned, he was spot on in his criticism and since the welfare, safety, and success of his troops is his responsibility, seeing a bunch of them die because of the botched nature of the withdrawal was more than sufficient motivation for some righteous outrage and a desire for accountability.
Was it “a failure of leadership?” That question gets a bit more sticky because of the nature of the military and the demands of the chain of command. Leadership comes from the top down. Scheller was up near the top of the chain of command, at least at the local level, but not at the top. As I discussed here when his story first broke, the military runs on the chain of command and it immediately fails when any link in that chain is broken. By going after his superiors in public the way he did, Scheller at least weakened the chain even if he didn’t break it entirely. And the military doesn’t take that lightly.
As I also explained at the time, Scheller knew that he could be facing more repercussions than just the end of his career and the loss of his pension. The military has the ability to look the other way sometimes when someone speaks out of school like that, particularly if the target of their ire is someone who is already unpopular with the brass. That wasn’t the case here, however.