A U.S. Marine officer recently disciplined for publicly criticizing top Pentagon leaders following the deadly and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan is now pushing back on a letter of reprimand labeling him “narcissistic” for speaking out in the manner he chose.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Jr. responded in a defiant manner Thursday to a highly critical letter issued by Marine Maj. Gen. Julian D. Alford earlier last week that also instructed Scheller to confine his comments to “pertinent facts” and to use “temperate language” when doing so, according to Fox News, which obtained a copy of the disciplined officer’s response.
Alford’s use of the term “narcissistic” was mentioned specifically by Scheller.
“I am not narcissistic,” wrote Scheller, who then referenced the response instructions he was given by Alford. “Yet in your letter, you felt compelled to use the word ‘narcissistic,’ which is neither ‘temperate,’ or ‘confined to pertinent facts.’”
A decorated war vet who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Scheller pleaded guilty last month to a half-dozen misdemeanor violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice during an Oct. 15 special court-martial. He previously served nine days in the brig after being charged.
He was sentenced by Col. Glen Hines to a letter of reprimand and a fine of $5,000, which was much less than the $30,000 military prosecutors had recommended. Hines referenced Scheller’s exemplary 17-year military record before he posted videos lashing out at senior Pentagon leaders, saying that the Marine officer “appeared to be someone in pain.”
In the reprimand letter, Alford wrote: “Your actions have harmed good order and discipline with the service as well as publicly discredited the U.S. Marine Corps. Your narcissistic acts can serve only to erode the rule of law.”
Included in Scheller’s response was criticism of his superiors for placing him in the brig “on the claim that I was a flight risk, which was unsupported by any facts.” He also railed at leaders for not providing him with fresh underwear, socks, and other fundamental necessities for the first five days he was placed into solitary confinement.
He went on to demand an investigation into his senior leaders, claiming they leaked his medical records to the media which he said came in retaliation for his public criticism of Pentagon leaders.
And Scheller also disagreed with Alford writing the reprimand letter while also overseeing his prosecution after listing himself as a victim in the charging sheet. The Marine vet said that amounted to a conflict of interest.
“I have accepted responsibility and accountability for my actions,” Scheller concluded in his letter. “I hope you ensure the same degree of accountability is exacted from those who … failed in their duties to ensure that 13 service members did not have to die needlessly.”
Scheller first posted a video to social media, in uniform, within hours of 11 Marines, two U.S. Army soldiers, and a Navy corpsman being killed outside the Kabul international airport by a suicide bomber a few days before an Aug. 31 deadline to be out of Afghanistan completely. In addition, 169 Afghan civilians were killed as well.
The Marine officer demanded that senior Pentagon leaders accept responsibility, publicly, for the botched withdrawal.
“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?’” said Scheller. “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?'”
This letter shows that Gen. Alford is allowing his ego to get in the way of his duties,” one of Scheller’s defense attorneys, Tim Parlatore, told Fox News regarding the Marine general’s reprimand.
“This case represents more than Stu Scheller. Veterans are in pain after watching everything they fought for evaporate and knowing that it was avoidable,” Parlatore added.
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