by Robert M. Traxler
Love of country, patriotism, duty, honor, fidelity to the flag are neither cuss words nor evil concepts.
Let’s talk about Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, a field grade officer who was apparently on the fast track for advancement; selection for command is a step toward the next promotion, and LTC Scheller was in command of a battalion when he became front and center in the news.
He posted videos condemning and being disrespectful to the chain of command. I watched both of his videos a number of times, and have no doubt in my military mind LTC Scheller violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice. A serving member of the military has no free speech or absolute truth protections, none. His words are punishable and unprofessional.
Do I agree with him? Absolutely, but that does not matter one bit. LTC Scheller made a video and posted it on two Internet sites for the public and his Marines to view, and in the video, he was disrespectful to the President and a number of others in his chain of command, serving officers or noncommissioned officers — just cannot be allowed to do that.
The video was made in his office on Camp Lejeune while he was in uniform; that just cannot be allowed in a military unit. LTC Scheller I am sure would not hesitate to punish a member of his battalion who openly and publicly was disrespectful to him.
One of the legal concepts in military justice is proportional punishment. Placing LTC Scheller in pretrial confinement was a mistake, and under normal circumstances would not be authorized. He was not a flight risk, nor a violent criminal; house or unit arrest would have been appropriate.
Common sense has now prevailed, and he has been released from the brig. Command influence is not tolerated in the military justice system; it is not allowed and must be avoided to insure a fair legal process. However, it is apparent in this case.
Military records are a matter of extenuation and mitigation, but no defense. LTC Schuller’s outstanding service to the Marine Corps and our nation during 17 years of honorable service has no impact on his guilt or innocence. It should be considered in the sentencing phase of a military justice procedure, criminal, nonjudicial, or even administrative, but has no impact on his guilt or innocence.
LTC Schuller objected to our surrender in Afghanistan, as do I and some others; however, it is no defense for the unprofessional and illegal actions he took to register his objections to our national policy and the chain of command.
I have written before and remain convinced of the sanctity of the chain of command, including the civilian authority over the armed services. It must remain in effect for our nation to follow the Constitution and not disintegrate into a socialist dictatorship propped up by the military.
LTC Schuller has dropped off the news cycle, which is good for him and our nation; we should not treat a disgraced (at best) or a criminal officer (at worst) as some kind of hero. A proper procedure for him would have been to resign his commission, and then speak out.
If LTC Schuller had been eligible for retirement, retired, and then publicly disrespected the chain of command, he could have been recalled to active duty and court marshalled. Though the law allows this, it is rarely done.
Being relieved from command for cause is a disgrace most civilians do not fully understand, or realize just how humiliating it is. Being punished under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice would be appropriate in this case; an official letter of reprimand could be placed in his file and his voluntary resignation accepted.
Bottom line, LTC Schuller must be punished for his actions. However, stacking five charges against him and pushing for decades in confinement is not justice but revenge. He has been disgraced and a reprimand would send the proper message to serving officers and noncommissioned officers that the chain of command is not to be publicly questioned by a serving officer, to include the civilian members.
Being veterans, we both realize the chain of command must be used in this instance and respected. It is the adhesive that allows the military to function properly, effectively, and efficiently. You can have individual opinions but expressing them is not wise. I think the LtC had enough and couldn’t contzin his anger over the ill-advised premature pullout from Afganistan without allies, Americans, and Afgans helping our troops and all war materials removed before the troops.
In civilian terms, the head shed makes the plan, designers and engineers create the product, and the workers on the shop floor make it happen. Really, the military and civilian workplace are similar except for the outcome during war.
To say we have a weak Commander in Chief is an understatement. A dementia patient in a suit. But since I’ve been a civilian for years, I am free to criticize as others can about my comments.
I sympathethize with LtC Schuller, and agree with everything he said and expressed. He just did it while wearing the uniform.
Mr. Don’t Tread On Me,
Thanks for your comment. Resign or ETS then you have all the free speech rights the wonks will allow to have.
As usual, no comments from the peanut gallery. They either loathe the military or ambivalent to our service members. I know the Democrats feel that way, but now the RINO’s are silent.
We left Americans in Afganistan along with allies and Afgans helping us. This is untenable and this will not be forgotten. Let’s Go Brandon will haunt him till the day he passes from this earth.
He tries as he might to place all blame on President Trump- Hey Joey, you are the president – hello, do you remember? You ordered this debacle, you own it!
13 people died on your watch along with Afgans fearing for their lives and falling from planes taking off. You, sir, are the reason for their deaths. Let’s Go Brandon!
To place all the blame on the current administration seems beyond disingenuous. My understanding is that the retreat was initiated when the former administration’s state department surrendered to the Taliban with an agreement to withdrawal. The original timeline target for withdrawal was May. I’ll assume that yall assume it would have been a highly streamlined operation had your favor been allowed to persist. I understand your devotion and assumptions of perfection, but would it honestly have been much less of a mess had your master been commanding, along with it occurring sooner?
The assumptions and assertions of what opposing minds think and feel in their absence is likely a driving factor in many of our current challenges, both local and abroad.
It would have been helpful to provide a link to the officers words, rather than attempt to shape opinions and steer perspective on the matter. Nonetheless I will seek out this service members comments in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the viewpoint.
It feels like an oversimplification and possibly an attempt to shift focus from the facts at hand, to simply state that he objected.
When an opposing mindset fails to respond to an intended challenge they could be speechless, you just might have “owned them”, or they could just be busy with more productive, effective matters. An assumption placed on how opposing mindsets regard any of our protective services and their members or agents seems extremely disingenuous and in turn places suspect on the motivations behind those assumptions.
I agree, “Eff Biden” but “Screw Trump” as well. They both have way to much credit placed on their actual capacity to effect change in our world. One could argue the masses have been thoroughly enchanted. Could the spells ever be broken, let alone recognized?