Matt Gaetz: Marine Relieved of Duty Would Make a Better Defense Secretary Than Lloyd Austin

Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, said Friday that he believes a Marine who was relieved of duty after he criticized the evacuation of Afghanistan is a better fit to oversee the military than the current defense secretary.

"Stuart Scheller would make a better Secretary of Defense than Lloyd Austin," Gaetz tweeted.

"We hear you. Accountability must come," the congressman added.

Stuart Scheller would make a better Secretary of Defense than Lloyd Austin.

We hear you.

Accountability must come. https://t.co/ykklyT7poj

— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) August 28, 2021

Scheller, a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, posted a video to Facebook and LinkedIn on Thursday following the attack near Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. troops, including 11 Marines.

In the video, he said he wanted demand accountability from senior military leaders over the handling of the situation in Afghanistan.

"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 said.

Gaetz Criticizes Military After Marine is Dismissed
On Friday, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said he believed a Marine who was relieved of duty after criticizing the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan would make a better defense secretary than Lloyd Austin. Below, Gaetz (left) speaks as Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) (right) listens during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on July 29, in Washington, DC. Alex Wong

"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,'" Scheller added.

"We have a secretary of defense that testified to Congress in May that the Afghan national security force could withstand the Taliban advance. We have chairmans [sic] of joint chiefs who—the commandant is a member of that—who're supposed to advise on military policy. We have a Marine combatant commander. All of these people are supposed to advise," he said.

On Friday, the day after he posted the video, Scheller said he had been "relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence."

"My chain of command is doing exactly what I would do... if I were in their shoes," he wrote.

Others have also criticized the military's decision to relieve Scheller from duty.

On Twitter Saturday, Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican, said Scheller should be re-instated.

Greene added: "Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley should be held accountable."

"They are the ones who failed, Scheller just said it," she said.

Marine Lt Col Stuart Scheller should be re-instated and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley should be held accountable.

They are the ones who failed, Scheller just said it. https://t.co/pD7kmvCyZY

— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) August 28, 2021

Donald Trump Jr. also blasted the move.

"The woke generals can troll Tucker Carlson on twitter and pontificate about 'white rage' in front of Congress, but simply asking for accountability for their deadly mistakes...gets you fired," he tweeted. "What a disgrace."

The woke generals can troll Tucker Carlson on twitter and pontificate about "white rage" in front of Congress, but simply asking for accountability for their deadly mistakes...gets you fired.

What a disgrace. https://t.co/1ULXeMHXHi

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 27, 2021

In an email to Newsweek, the Department of Defense referred to a statement from a Marine Corps spokesperson, Maj. Jim Stenger.

"Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was relieved of command by Col. David Emmel, Commanding Officer of School of Infantry-East, due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command," 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," he added.

Updated 11:06 AM ET, with a response from the Department of Defense.