The former lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, whose career imploded after a series of harsh online criticisms of his superiors’ handling of the war in Afghanistan, says he does not plan to run for a political office, as many predicted, but revealed in a new interview that he has no intention of riding out into the sunset.
Stuart Scheller was arraigned in court and discharged in December after appearing in viral videos in which he attacked military leaders over their handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, sometimes mocking senior officials who ordered him to stop his criticism. He became something of a celebrity in the wake of the chaotic and expensive U.S. military withdrawal from the country, where former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s Pipehitter Foundation raised about $ 2.5 million for his legal defense.
While a political career is apparently not in his immediate future, Mr. Scheller told the Marine Corps Times in an interview that he wants to support others who support his cause and are considering running for office.
“I think there should be leaders in Congress. Right now we have a bunch of politicians and I just do not think that’s enough,” he told the military publication. “They have shown that many of them do not have the courage required to be up there. “
Scheller was controversially held in custody as a flight risk before his military trial began. He pleaded guilty to five charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including disrespect for senior officers and deliberate disobedience to a senior officer.
He was fined $ 5,000 and reprimanded, a much milder sentence than military prosecutors had originally requested.
Sir. Scheller launched an “Authentic Americans” website to promote his philosophy and wrote a book, “Crisis of Command: How We Lost Trust and Confidence in America’s Generals and Politicians,” which is expected to be published in August. He has said that leadership skills and support for veterans are more important to him than political ideology when deciding which candidates to support.
“I will support any candidate who I believe is a leader – he is not an extremist on either side,” Mr Scheller recently told the Washington Examiner.
He was a veteran infantry officer who led Marines in combat in Afghanistan and was battalion commander in Camp Lejeune, NC when the U.S. mission was about to disband. His first video was released shortly after 13 U.S. troops – including 11 Marines – were killed in a suicide attack on August 26 outside the gates of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where they were trying to help with the rapid evacuation of U.S. and allied forces. personnel at the Taliban uprising. was about to take over the country.
He said the country’s top military leaders had to acknowledge their roles in the collapse of the 20-year effort in Afghanistan.
“I really believe that the Marine Corps has the best talent of all the military services. But I also really believe that fundamental changes need to be made in the military,” he said in his latest court statement. “I observed that the generals were unable or unwilling to hold themselves accountable.”
After his videos landed him in hot water, Mr Scheller said no one in his chain of command at Camp Lejeune ever called to ask how he was doing, even after they had ordered him to undergo a psychiatric examination. This prompted him to continue publishing videos that eventually resulted in his martial law.
“I just realized that Marine Corps did not care about me and no one addressed the content of my statements,” he told the Marine Corps Times. “That was when I made the second video. I thought, “If you do not care about me, I do not care about you.”
Sir. Scheller told the Marine Corps Times that his “Disabled Veterans PAC” so far supports an unnamed group of 25 congressional candidates, including five Senate candidates. While claiming that his political activism is not biased, Mr Scheller told the publication that to date he has only contributed to the Republicans.
On his website, Mr Scheller said he hoped to be able to offer what he calls a “platform for discussion.”
“Different opinions are not only welcome but necessary on this platform,” the website says. “But excessive reproach, finger-pointing or division directed at an individual, faction or political party will not be tolerated.… One of the US problems right now is that reason is drowned out in the noise of emotions. Please check your emotions, political upbringing and ego at the door. ”