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What we know about Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, the Marine officer in the brig after publicly criticizing his commanders

09/29/2021

Lt Col Scheller, USMC

Via Task & Purpose

Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, the Marine infantry officer and former battalion commander who made headlines last month for criticizing his chain of command in public is now in the brig and accused of four offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Scheller is accused of the following offenses under the UCMJ: Article 88: Contempt toward officials, Article 90: Willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, Article 92: Failure to obey an order, and Article 133: Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, a Marine Corps spokesperson told Task & Purpose.

However, it’s not yet certain whether Scheller will face a court-martial. The Marine will go through an Article 32 hearing, which will determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a court-martial. But no matter what the hearing finds, Scheller has already made a name for himself through his viral videos. Publicly criticizing senior leadership while still in uniform the way Scheller did was a move so bold that even members of other branches of the military are talking about it.

“People are lying if they said they didn’t feel a little bit like he did the day he posted the video,” said a commenter on the Air Force subreddit in reaction to the news on Monday that Scheller had been sent to the brig and is expected to appear before a military hearing on Thursday. 

“[B]ut most of us have the better judgement than to post something like that (especially in uniform),” the commenter added.

Another commenter on the unofficial Marine Corps subreddit echoed that sentiment, writing “You don’t out-dick the Marine Corps. The green weenie always wins. This is no surprise.”

Scheller posted his first video to Facebook and LinkedIn on Aug. 26, as the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was still ongoing. In the video, Scheller levelled criticism at senior military leaders for their handling of the final days of America’s longest war. 

“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 airbase, before we evacuate everyone,’” he asked in the Aug. 26 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 day after Scheller shared the video, he was relieved of command as the battalion commander for the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at School of Infantry East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. As his notoriety grew, so too did his criticism of senior military leaders.

More videos were quick to follow:  One on Aug. 29 in which he vowed to resign his commission and proclaimed “Follow me and we will bring the whole f—king system down” and another on Sept. 16 in which he pledged to file charges against Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., head of U.S. Central Command, for his mistakes leading up to the chaotic Afghanistan evacuation.

According to his service record, Scheller’s date of entry in the Marine Corps is listed as Nov. 2, 2004, and his official bio states that he attended Officer Candidate School in January 2005 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelors in accounting. Scheller took command of a platoon in the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, and helped evacuate Americans out of Beirut during the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict, and deployed to Ramadi, Iraq as a company executive officer in 2007.

Over the next several years, Scheller served all over the world and all over the Corps. In 2010, he spent a year in Paktika and Ghanzi provinces, Afghanistan, where he helped clear roads of improvised explosive devices as an explosive ordnance disposal and route clearance expert supporting the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade. In 2012, Scheller served briefly as commander of Headquarters and Service Company for 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines. He earned a masters in military science at Command and Staff College in 2018, and he also spent about a year in a support battalion with Marine Forces Special Operations Command 

In between these assignments, Scheller worked with training units at various schools before finally assuming his latest post as the commanding officer of School of Infantry East, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, this June. 

His personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, an Army Commendation Medal with combat “V,” and three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals, according to his service record.

Scheller’s father described his son as a proud American who loves the Marine Corps and has served proudly for nearly 17 years.

“He’s asking for the same accountability that is expected of him and his men,” Stu Scheller Sr. told Task & Purpose on Monday.

“All our son did is ask the questions that everybody was asking themselves, but they were too scared to speak out loud,” Scheller Sr. said. “He was asking for accountability. In fact, I think he even asked for an apology that we made mistakes, but they couldn’t do that, which is mind-blowing.”

In their reactions to Scheller’s video, some viewers saw an infantry officer risking his career to voice frustrations over a long-mismanaged and oft-forgotten war. But others saw a rogue Marine who broke with established norms by criticizing his chain of command publicly. Still, Scheller Sr. said the “botched” withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has likely struck a nerve for anyone who has served in the military over the past 20 years.

“I’ve had Vietnam veterans contacting me applauding him for his courage because they too want to know: Was it all worth it?” the elder Scheller said. “And by demanding accountability and honesty from his senior leaders, that’s all he was asking. And the way the Marine Corps has dealt with it: They have now put him in jail.”

A commenter on the Marine Corps subreddit agreed that it’s not a great look for the service.

“Either way the brass could have handled this situation was going to result in poor PR for the Marine Corps,” they wrote.

Still, this likely won’t be the last time we hear from, or about, Lt. Col. Scheller.

“Wait till you see the book deal,” said one commenter on the Air Force subreddit.

“And the Fox/OAN guest appearance spots,” wrote another.

James Clark contributed reporting to this story.

Update: This story has been updated to clarify the role of the Article 32 hearing in the military justice system.