Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who publicly took issue with the U.S. military’s bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan, on Thursday pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor charges at a special court-martial hearing at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, related to his posting of videos on social media critical of military leadership and the Biden administration.
Scheller, 40, is charged with contempt toward officials, disrespect toward superior commissioned officers, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, dereliction in the performance of duties, failure to obey order or regulation, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
Dressed in uniform, Scheller arrived “grim-faced” for the proceedings, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, to face the consequences of his very public battle with top military brass and civilian leadership.
Scheller came to prominence for an Aug. 26 video he posted on Facebook and LinkedIn criticizing the handling of the hurried U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The video was posted on the same day that 13 service members — including 11 Marines, one Navy corpsman and an Army special operator — were killed in an attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“Did anyone raise their hand and say, ‘We completely messed this up?’” the decorated 17-year veteran asked in the video, as reported by Fox News.
“I’m not saying we can take back what has been done. All I asked for was accountability, for people to comment on what I said and to say, ‘Yes. Mistakes were made.’ And had they done that I would’ve gone back into rank and file, submitted, and accomplished what I wanted,” he said.
Scheller subsequently posted several much more brazen videos to social media.
As a result of his actions, Scheller was relieved of his command at the School of Infantry-East at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and confined to the brig for more than a week.
During the court-martial hearing, Scheller admitted his life “was spiraling” during the time of his online attacks against military leadership, as reported by the Daily Mail.
In responding to Judge Colonel Glen Hines’ query about what had happened, Scheller replied, “My wife had left me, and I had a small business taken from me.”
Nevertheless, during the hearing Scheller denied mental stress was responsible for his actions and remained somewhat defiant about what he did.
“I willfully disobeyed an order [in order to] tell hard truths,” he said, in response to being asked about the dereliction of duty charge.
Likewise, he was unrepentant in his criticism of military leadership.
“I made statements about their incompetence,” Scheller said, in reference to generals.
“I believe general officers failed to hold themselves accountable,” Scheller told the judge, according to Task & Purpose. “I made what I believed to be true statements about their incompetence. It is disrespectful to point out their professional failures. Doing so detracts from the respect their positions demand.”
The judge accepted Schiller’s guilty plea.
Schiller faces a maximum punishment of receiving a letter of reprimand and forfeiture of two-thirds of one month’s pay for a year.
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