Biden’s rules: Don’t criticize us for Afghanistan or you’ll be fired

WASHINGTON – Head of a battalion of the “School of Infantry East” of the US Marine Corps since June 2021, Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Scheller began his military career within the unit responsible for ensuring perimeter security from Kabul. recalls that jihadists from the Afghan-Pakistani branch of the Islamic State [IS-K] blew themselves up among Afghan civilians hoping to leave their country after the Taliban took power.

The attack, which claimed the lives of 13 US servicemen, including a navy he knew personally, knocked the officer off the hook. In a video that, posted on social media, quickly went viral, Lt. Col. Scheller criticized his hierarchy, both civilian and military, over his handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. And to go so far as to demand accountability.

“I am making [this video] because I feel a growing dissatisfaction and contempt for the incompetence I perceive in matters of foreign policy, and in particular I want to ask some of my senior leaders a few questions,” Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Scheller began.

Then he replied to General David Berger, the commander of the US Marine Corps, who, a few days earlier, had issued a “letter” to respond to the Marines who might wonder if their engagement in Afghanistan had been worth it. “In view of the evolution of the country. “People are upset because their top leadership has let them down and none of them […] accept responsibility for this mess,” said Lt. Col. Scheller.

“We have a defense secretary who told Congress in May that the Afghan security forces could resist the Taliban advance. We have chiefs of staff who are supposed to advise on military policy,” he continued.

“I’m not saying we have to stay in Afghanistan forever. But I ask: did any of you put your stripes on the table saying ‘hey, it’s a bad idea to withdraw from Bagram airfield, an airbase strategic, before having evacuated everyone ‘? Did anyone do this? And although no one thought to do it, none of them raised their hands and said, “We screwed up,” Lt. Col. Scheller got angry afterward.

However, would the maintenance of American forces at the Bagram base until August 31, the date set by President Biden for their withdrawal from Afghanistan, have made any difference? Perhaps, if that had made it possible to continue providing air support to the Afghan forces.

In any case, the decision to evacuate this base on the sly was criticized not only by the American military but also by parliamentarians. A Pentagon official, Reuters reports, argued that it would have taken around 8,000 US troops to secure Bagram’s hold, which was “probably under attack” at one point or another by the Taliban. And, given that it is located 40 km from Kabul, evacuation operations would not have been made any easier.

In his 4-minute video, Lieutenant-Colonel Scheller does not have the record of twenty years of military service in Afghanistan, nor of the errors of assessment made.

In any case, making himself the spokesperson for his comrades who wonder if lives have been lost in vain, he affirmed that, from his point of view, this would indeed be the case “if we do not have highs leaders who admit their faults. Otherwise, the same mistakes will happen again in the future.

In posting this video, “I am willing to risk my current position as battalion commander, my retirement, and the stability of my family to say some of the things that are close to my heart. I think it gives me some moral credit for demanding the same honesty, integrity, and responsibility from my senior leadership, ”the officer argued. “I demand accountability,” he concluded.

Lieutenant-Colonel Scheller knew the risks to which he was going to expose himself by acting in this way [such as losing the benefit of his retirement since he has not yet totaled 20 years of service, note] And the reaction of his hierarchy n ‘will not have been long in coming, especially since his video has been viewed 475,000 times on Facebook, generated 38,000 positive mentions [24,000 “likes” and 14,000 “I love”] and generated nearly over 6,000 comments in no time.

Also, a few hours later, the spokesperson for the USMC, Commander Jim Stenger, confirmed to the press that Lieutenant-Colonel Scheller had just been “relieved of his command […] due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command”. He added, “This is a trying time for many Marines, and we encourage anyone who is struggling at the moment to seek advice or speak to another Marine.”


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