Marine officer who criticized US Afghanistan withdrawal pleads guilty
Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller pleaded guilty this morning to all six charges and specifications levied against him by the military following his public comments that bashed the final American withdrawal in August of combat forces from Afghanistan.
As part of his plea agreement, Scheller waived his right to a jury trial.
Prior to the court-martial, Scheller attorney Tim Parlatore told the news media Scheller accepted responsibility for his actions and the main issue remaining was a decision on what would be an appropriate punishment.
Parlatore said he expects Stuart’s punishment will include a letter of reprimand and will not include confinement. He expects the proceedings to conclude today.
Parlatore is a civilian lawyer whose firm is based in New York.
The court-martial hearing was scheduled to commence at 9 a.m. at Camp Lejeune for
Scheller, a former Marine Corps battalion commander who was relieved of command after publicly criticizing the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
According to an Oct. 13 report from CNN, Scheller sought a plea deal for an honorable discharge or a general discharge with honorable conditions. The Pipe Hitter Foundation has raised more than $2 million to support the Scheller family.
Scheller is in court because he posted a video while in uniform on Aug. 26 demanding accountability from military leaders over the withdrawal from Afghanistan after 11 Marines, a Navy corpsman and a Fort Bragg Army soldier were killed in Kabul. The following day, Scheller was relieved of his command of the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Lejeune’s Camp Geiger.
In the video, which has more than one million views on Facebook, Scheller made it evident he was willing to risk his position as battalion commander, retirement and family stability to speak his mind.
“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,” Scheller said in the video.
Scheller, who has served 17 years, continued to speak out on social media.
“All I asked for was accountability of my senior leaders when there are clear, obvious mistakes that were made,” Scheller said in an Aug. 29 video in which he announced his decision to resign his commission.He further said, “follow me and we will bring the whole [explicit] system down.”
On Sept. 27, Scheller was placed in pretrial confinement at Camp Lejeune for violating a gag order, according to multiple reports.
On Oct. 5, Scheller was released from confinement and was charged with six violations of military law:
Contempt toward officials.
Disrespect toward superior commissioned officers.
Willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer.