An active-duty Marine officer ripped into military leaders in a social media video Thursday after an ISIS attack outside a Kabul airport left at least 13 U.S. troops and more than 100 Afghans dead.
In the roughly five-minute video, Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller upbraided military brass over the way the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has been carried out and called for them to take ownership for the chaotic events of the past few weeks.
“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, in uniform, said in the video. “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’?”
The video, which has taken off on social media within military circles, is an unusual sign of public dissent and frustration within the ranks.
Scheller said that “potentially all those people did die in vain” if senior military leaders are not held to account.
“Without that, the … higher military ranks are not holding up their end of the bargain,” he said. “I have been fighting for 17 years. I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders, ‘I demand accountability.’”
Scheller said that one of the people who died Thursday was someone he knew personally, but he said that was not the sole reason for his video, and others have shared similar frustrations.
He said he was willing to risk severe sanctions for speaking out if it brings further attention to the questions he raised of military leadership.
“I think what you believe in can only be defined by what you’re willing to risk,” he said. “So … I think it gives me some moral high ground to demand the same honesty, integrity, accountability from my senior leaders.”
A spokesperson said the Marine Corps is aware of the video but did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Scheller’s criticisms.