A Marine was relieved of duty on Friday afternoon following a video he posted to Facebook criticizing senior military officials and demanding accountability following a bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans.
Marine Corps spokesperson Maj. Jim Stenger told The Hill in a statement that Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller had been relieved "due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command."
In the video, which was posted Thursday evening following the terrorist attack near the Kabul international airport, Scheller said that he wanted to “ask some questions to some of my senior leaders.”
“[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,” Scheller said in the video.
"The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marines on the battlefield let someone down — that service member’s always rose to the occasion, 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 later added, noting that “a lot of Marines were posting on social media.”
The U.S.'s troops withdrawal efforts in Afghanistan have been marred by the takeover of the country by the Taliban. The Taliban consolidated power earlier this month after they took the capital city of Kabul, prompting U.S. citizens on the ground and Afghan partners, and Afghan citizens to rush to the airport.
Shortly after the Afghan government fell, the U.S. began evacuation efforts that have been mired in chaos. On Thursday, a suicide bomber believed to be affiliated with the insurgent group ISIS-K detonated an explosive which killed several Marines on the ground in Kabul.
Scheller criticized the way the U.S. carried out its evacuation operation.
“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 air base, before we evacuate everyone? 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?'" Scheller said.
In his statement to The Hill, Stenger acknowledged it was an emotionally difficult time for the Marines, but he said that social media was not the place to air disagreements.
"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,” Stenger said.
Scheller said in a Facebook post on Friday that “My chain of command is doing exactly what I would do ... if I were in their shoes.”
“I appreciate the opportunities AITB command provided,” he added.
Updated at 8:36 p.m.