A U.S. Marine officer who was charged and ousted after he publicly criticized the Biden administration and Pentagon leaders following the botched, deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan went on to name names during an interview as to who he holds most responsible.
Former Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who has said he is considering a run for office, told SiriusXM host Megyn Kelly that he holds outgoing Central Command chief Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie responsible, as well as others in the top chain of command.
“If I was Joe Biden, I would say ‘the buck stops with me;’ if I was Gen. McKenzie, I would say that the ‘buck stops with me.’ If I was [SecDef] Lloyd Austin, I would say ‘the buck stops with me.’…all three have shirked responsibility,” Scheller said.
“My position is once the generals, Gen. McKenzie specifically…when he recommended to the president that we should have 2,500 troops, there was a responsibility for the military advisor to get the boss to take his plan…so he failed in that ‘soft diplomacy’…so at that point, Gen. McKenzie had a choice. He could have resigned…he had a moral responsibility to resign,” he told Kelly.
Specifically, Scheller was talking about holding onto the better defended Bagram Air Base, which Biden ordered abandoned, with a fraction of those troops redeployed to the international airport at Kabul.
“I’ve been to Bagram Air Base…it’s hard to even fathom if you’ve never been there how big and important and critical this was. You could have done that whole evacuation and maintained security and never had a problem,” Scheller said.
Military planners submitted plans to the Biden administration to maintain Bagram, but the Biden and his inner circle instead decided to close down Bagram, he explained, “because they wanted to shrink the force in Afghanistan very quickly.”
Scheller also revealed that the military imposed a gag order on him for four months, but now that he is speaking out, McKenzie is “racing for the exits.”
“But [McKenzie] didn’t [resign], so he obviously thought, based on the restraints that he had, he could pull off the plan. In my opinion, at that point, he is responsible. He is the military guy that’s in charge of that plan doing the withdrawal. He doesn’t get to go back, after the fact, which is what he did, and say, ‘no, I told the president 2,500, and he didn’t listen to me.’
“Well, you didn’t resign, did you Frank, and you didn’t get him to agree to your plan, did you Frank, so guess what? You’re responsible at this point.” Scheller continued.
“It just kind of breaks my heart that this is where we’re at, we’re looking at these general officers, their plans were obviously failing, and we don’t have anyone saying, ‘hey, we messed this up.’”
Scheller also blasted Marine Corps Commandant David Berger for issuing a memo telling disillusioned-or-worse soldiers, among other things, to seek therapy.
“I read that, and it rang so false. He didn’t either understand, or he just didn’t care, why servicemembers were upset. They were upset because the plan fell apart because it was a terrible plan. Anyone can see that,” the former Marine officer added.
“No one is addressing the breakdown at the operational and strategic level, which is the four-star general level, and those people need to be held accountable,” Scheller asserted.