Douglas Andrews / August 1, 2022

Stuart Scheller Gives ‘Em Hell

The former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel was relieved of his command last year, but that hasn’t stopped him from speaking out.

“The American military,” said former Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller in a recent op-ed in Human Events, “is currently led by senior general officers lacking moral courage.”

Clearly, Stu Scheller isn’t one to mince words. After having been imprisoned for speaking his mind on social media last August during Joe Biden’s disastrous retreat and surrender in Afghanistan, Scheller was drummed out of the Marine Corps after 17 years, thus ending a promising career that those who knew him thought would end one day 40 years from now with a general’s rank.

The catalyst for Scheller’s outburst last August 26 was the same incident that outraged the rest of us: an all-too-predictable suicide bombing at Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 11 Marines, one sailor, and one soldier. He was charged with six violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but the Marine Corps judge who decided his sentence rejected the prosecution’s requested punishment and instead sharply criticized the Corps’ handling of the case. Still, Scheller clearly cares deeply about the American military and the problems that plague it — especially that lack of moral courage he sees among our military’s senior leadership:

Most Americans don’t understand how this quality is actively filtered out by the military promotion system. Officers are easily influenced, focusing on pleasing superiors for high markings on subjective evaluations. When senior military leaders focus on pleasing their bosses … it’s not surprising they consistently acquiesce to political whims at the expense of building effective combat power.“

In practice, they tolerate, even incentivize, silence during military failures. Thus, it’s not surprising that General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and General Kenneth McKenzie, the theater commander, remain entrenched in their position that the Afghanistan evacuation was a success. To say otherwise would end their career, or worse, threaten lucrative post-service positions within the oligopoly of government contracting firms.

General James Mattis went from General Dynamics to Secretary of Defense and then back to General Dynamics, impervious to scrutiny due to the supposed greatness of his military policies — which contained many failures. Secretary Lloyd Austin followed a similar path: from four-star to the board of Raytheon to Secretary of Defense. When the media (beholden to their own corporate interests) cover this at all, they often focus on irrelevant problems, only scratching the surface of the deep rot.

Given the problems that Scheller describes, is it any wonder that morale is low all across our newly woke military, and that this bulwark of American freedom is now turning off patriotic young Americans and dissuading them from service? Is it any wonder that the military isn’t even close to meeting its recruitment numbers this year?

"Reform,” Scheller says, “must come from the ground up. Simply replacing ‘woke generals’ doesn’t correct the system producing hollow military leaders. Fortunately, America has two decades of combat warriors, the best young talent, and the finest training facilities on the planet. The next generation of generals could potentially break the cycle of working just to impress their boss. Instead of people-pleasing and nepotism, competitions illustrating performance in warfighting should earn officers the fast track to promotion.”

Pointing to an unwillingness to speak up and say “no,” Scheller puts it succinctly: “During critical moments when military leaders should be standing for American values, we instead find impressively dressed old men nodding ‘yes.’”

We appreciate Scheller’s willingness to speak out, and we hope good people all across our service branches are listening to him.

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