Marine Officer Demands Accountability for Bungled Afghanistan Withdrawal in Now Viral Video

A Marine officer on Thursday demanded accountability for the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, criticizing the way senior military leadership is handling the situation.

In a four-minute video he posted on social media, Stuart Scheller, an advanced infantry training battalion commander, pointed out mistakes made throughout the military's withdrawal operation.

"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,'" he said in the video.

"I'm not making this video because it's potentially an emotional time. I'm making it because I have a growing discontent and contempt for my perceived ineptitude at the foreign policy level, and I want to specifically ask some questions to some of my senior leaders," he added.

Scheller's video was shared 14,000 times and garnered around 2,000 comments as of Friday afternoon. Some of the commentators criticized Scheller for calling out his senior leaders while in uniform and urged him to take off his uniform and resign. Others praised him for speaking up in a direct way that could risk his career.

But Scheller acknowledged that risk in his video, saying, "I think what you believe in can only be defined by what you're willing to risk. So if I'm willing to risk my current battalion commander seat, my retirement, my family's stability to say some of the things I want to say, I think it gives me some moral high ground to demand the same honesty, integrity, accountability from my senior leaders."

In the video, Scheller criticized the evacuation of troops and the way officials didn't note the shortcomings during the process.

"I'm not saying we've got to be in Afghanistan forever, 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?'" Scheller said.

"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'?" he asked.

Scheller also addressed Thursday's suicide bomb attack outside Kabul's airport by an affiliate of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), which killed 13 U.S. service members and injured 18 others. He spoke about the operational unit that is now handling the security situation there, saying he started his tour with that unit, called Victor 1-8, "that is doing perimeter security, dealing with the mess that's going on there."

"You can see open-source reporting that there was an explosion and some people were killed. I know through my inside channels that one of the people that was killed was someone that I have a personal relationship with," he said.

Scheller reiterated his point about demanding accountability from senior military leaders, asking them to admit that they "did not do this well in the end."

"All those people did die in vain if we don't have senior leaders who take responsibility for what happened," he said. "Without that, we just keep repeating the same mistakes."

Later in the video, the Marine officer read and reacted to part of an August 18 letter from General David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, that addressed the Taliban's takeover of some parts of Afghanistan before U.S. troops began withdrawing.

Marines, @USMCSgtMaj and I would like to offer our thoughts so you know where your senior leaders stand. pic.twitter.com/lL9CbsvWKb

— David H. Berger (@CMC_MarineCorps) August 18, 2021

The portion that Scheller read said: "Some of you may be struggling with the simple question 'Was it all worth it?' We want you to know that your service is meaningful, powerful and important. You fought for the Marine to your left and the Marine to your right. You never let them down."

Scheller commented on this part of the letter, noting that "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 has 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,'" he added.

Newsweek reached out to Scheller for further comment but didn't hear back before publication.

Marine Officer criticizes American withdrawal from Afghanistan
In a viral video, Marine officer Stuart Scheller speaks about mistakes in the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and urges senior military leaders to take accountability for what went wrong. Above, a Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary unit passes out water to evacuees at Kabul's airport on August 21. Photo by Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marine Corps via Getty Images