The parents of a US marine commander jailed for blasting his superiors and calling for “revolution” on social media have called for the leaders of the military to resign.
Lt Col Stuart Scheller, who has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Beirut, was put in the brig this weekend after refusing an order to stop his stream of Facebook and LinkedIn posts excoriating US generals and politicians.
The 17-year Marine Corps veteran posted his first video criticising the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan on 26 August, followed by wide-ranging broadsides demanding “fundamental change” to America’s government and pledging to “bring the whole f***ing system down”.
On Tuesday, Lt Col’s Scheller’s father Stuart Sr and mother Cathy told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that US joint chiefs chairman Gen Mark Milley, Middle East region Gen Kenneth McKenzie, and secretary of defence Lloyd Austin should quit their posts.
Mr Scheller said: “While Stuart broke the chain of command, General McKenzie and General Milley and Secretary Austin broke the chain of trust and confidence of the American people. For that, they should be embarrassed. They should resign for that.
“He could not stand by and could not fathom the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. He was asking for accountability, honest answers, and confessions of mistakes that were made.
“They have turned their backs on him. They have tried to shut him up with a gag order, and when that didn’t work, they have put him in jail. It’s shameful.”
Ms Scheller said: “We want them to resign and we want Stuart released. We would like him to have his pension reinstated and his hard-earned medical benefits that he will need after his many deployments. If they won’t do that, at least release him and let him out of the Marines.”
Mr Scheller also attacked the two generals’ testimony before the US Senate on Tuesday, in which they contracted President Biden’s insistence that nobody had warned him Afghanistan would collapse if all US troops pulled out.
The rapid implosion of the US-backed Afghan government led to a swift Taliban takeover and the death of 13 US service members in a suicide bombing by rival Islamic fundamentalists.
Stuart Scheller Sr said: “Today’s hearing showed they won’t accept accountability for the mistakes they made. They wanted to blame everybody else – the Afghan military, the Afghan government, the weather, whoever.
“It’s no coincidence in my opinion that they put a gag order on [Lt Col Scheller] and they put him in prison the day before they had to appear in front of senators – and tomorrow in front of congressmen. I think that is fairly an act of cowardice.”
Lt Col Scheller caused a sensation in the US military community when he posted his first video about Afghanistan in August. “People are lying if they said they didn’t feel a little bit like he did,” said one user on Reddit’s Air Force board.
The next day, he was relieved of his command of a training battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. On 25 September, he received an order to stop posting on social media and posted it on Facebook, leading to his detention.
According to the military affairs magazine Task and Purpose, Lt Col Scheller is accused of contempt towards officials, willfully disobeying a superior, failure to obey an order, and “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman”. He is now awaiting a hearing to determine whether he should face court martial.
Prior to his imprisonment, the officer had pledged to file charges against Gen McKenzie and widened his criticisms to the American political class, declaring that “every generation needs a revolution”.
“Follow me, and we will bring the whole fucking system down – in a constitutional manner with one loud voice,” he said in one post.
Another read: “To the American leadership: we the people seek change. We the people seek leadership. We the people seek accountability. We the people will take it.”
On 25 September, he argued that US politicians were failing the people so badly that radical change, up to and including revolution, might be justified, citing “economic crisis”, lack of accountability, a broken immigration system, and “abuses [of] American freedoms in the name of safety”.
However, he also criticised former president Donald Trump, saying: “I was told by everyone to kiss the ring because of your following and power. I refuse.
“While I respect your foreign policy positions, I hate how you divided the country. I don’t need or want your help. You do not have the ability to pull US together... tell your son to stop tweeting about me.”
He posted screenshots of messages sent to him by friends and other soldiers urging him to take down his video and stop his campaign, which he refused.
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