The Scheller case: 'Fight On' on several levels
Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller, USMC has been charged with six violations of the UCMJ, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, surrounding his criticism of Joe Biden and the many generals involved in the disastrous Afghanistan pullout. He will be tried by a special court-martial. A Marine spokesman said Scheller has been charged with Article 88 (contempt toward officials), Article 89 (disrespect toward superior commissioned officers), Article 90 (willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer), Article 92 (dereliction in the performance of duties), Article 92 (failure to obey order or regulation), and Article 133 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman).
Since my fellow Marines are not known for backing down in any engagement, either individually or as a Corps, the special court-martial is shaping up to be a historic symbolic test of the famous question: what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force?
LTC Scheller, in his own words, is the immovable object, as expressed in his letter of resignation to the secretary of the Navy — "a lack of trust and confidence in your ability to lead" with a CC to the commandant of the Marine Corps.
With respect to the actual charges, the unstoppable force, the Biden national security team, has already made two preliminary moves against LTC Scheller.
The first, as explained in American Thinker, was going "full Soviet" with a psychological evaluation. One moment, he is the battalion C.O. of a very prestigious Marine infantry training unit. After demanding that senior leaders be held accountable for the worst defeat in American military history, he is tarred in public, forced to undergo an evaluation of his mental health.
In the second round of their being unstoppable, it's personified by his being sent to the brig at a most fortunate time for those he called out:
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller is confined to the brig because, to put it in Marine speak, he would not "STFU" about holding leaders accountable.
I will leave it to others to critique his court-martial because I do not have a law degree, although I served on a court-martial board many years ago.
Knowledgeable former military lawyers, along with those who are often called "sea" or "barracks" lawyers — members of the military and veterans without law degrees — along with those I call "cubicle commandos," opinionated civilians who never served, will all have a say in our 21st-century social commentary information outlets — so let them have at it.
Round 2 against LTC Scheller was his brig confinement. As told to me by a highly respected former Marine lawyer, it was highly improper. He was muzzled, as the three current leaders of the Department of Defense were called to Capitol Hill to testify about their failed tactical and strategic leadership in the Afghan war.
I was told the secretary of defense and the secretary of the Navy were highly upset with the outspoken Marine, so he had to be silenced in the brig as Generals Kenneth McKenzie and Mark Milley and Secretary Lloyd Austin offered a defense taken from an old Seinfeld episode: "We took command, and then yada, yada, yada, we lost the war."
The perhaps as yet to be discovered improper command influence in UCMJ procedures may also play out, as the danger for the prosecution is simple. The "unstoppable" UCMJ leadership team is very careful not to go full-on Soviet across the board, in the matter of imitating the famous quote from the USSR Stalin years:
However, since life is a protracted process, the power balance in the symbolic question will shift after the court-martial to focus on the immovable truth of this Marine lieutenant colonel's accusations.
All the evidence, unlike the way the charges are specified in the UCMJ world, are already readable in a different court, the court of public opinion, because we Americans, when all is said and done, recognize that the truth is the truth.
Two men I have real respect for and know, bring tremendous credibility to the Afghan war issues in play now and for many years to come.
John Sopko is the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction and a smart individual with the courage of his convictions to report on what was really occurring in Afghanistan while military commanders were giving their continuous "furry bunnies and unicorn" speeches about a path to victory.
As reported on NPR, and please note that an embedded link goes to all his many I.G. reports:
Sopko said his agency released multiple reports and he testified more than 50 times to sound the warning in the last decade.
"I mean, we've been shining a light on it in multiple reports going back to when I started [in] 2012 about changing metrics, about ghosts, ghost soldiers who didn't exist, about poor logistics, about the fact that the Afghans couldn't sustain what we were giving them," he said. "So these reports have come out."
The speed with which the Taliban overtook Afghanistan "maybe is a little bit of a surprise," Sopko said. But "the fact that the ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces] could not fight on their own should not have been a surprise to anyone."
My other friend, whom my OSD Office of International Technology Security (ITS) sent forward to run all security for the Iraq Ministry of Transportation, is James Durso. Like John Sopko, Jim is on a commendable quest for the truth, possessing detailed knowledge of how the government and military really work as well as the moral and intellectual courage to engage in public debate, by asking a simple question in a prescient article: "Public Service or Self-Service?"
The twenty years since 9/11 have seen a surge in enrichment opportunities for former high-ranking military officers, diplomats, and intelligence officials.
Retired generals and admirals have joined the boards of defense contractors, the current U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin of Raytheon, and his predecessor, James Mattis of General Dynamics, being prime examples. A 2012 study found that from 2009 to 2011, 76 of 108 top officers took contractor positions, and an earlier review found that from 2004-2008, "80 percent of retiring three- and four-star officers went to work as consultants or defense executives." Several served on the Defense Policy Board while in the employ of contractors.
When the court-martial of LTC Scheller ends, the quote I learned to announce an engagement as a naval aviator and former Marine fighter pilot is simple and direct for the coming very public debate to determine who lost the Afghan war and the commensurate need for accountability: "fights on."
Image: Public record, fair use.
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