Former Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was discharged from the military for speaking out against the execution of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, but now he’s pointing out how the same level of accountability should apply to Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie.
Scheller explained on “Fox & Friends” Thursday that Gen. Mark Milley holds “a lot of contempt” towards McKenzie since CENTCOM is responsible for compiling a military plan. And as McKenzie reports directly to the secretary of defense, Scheller said, there’s no need to discuss with the chairman of joint chiefs.
“In terms of the Afghanistan withdrawal, Gen. Milley is not even a player,” he said. “It is Gen. McKenzie to the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to the president. Gen. McKenzie was there from President Trump to President Biden. It was 100% his responsibility to have a better plan.”
According to Scheller, the generals “failed to advise” President Biden on the appropriate plan and, at that point, Gen. McKenzie had the option to resign but refused.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the United States Central Command, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Rod Lamkey/Pool via AP)
“The general officers that advised the president should have advised better,” he said. “Where we’re failing at wars is at the operational and strategic level.”
The former Marine was immediately fired back in August without investigation for releasing his statement critiquing the military’s approach, to then be imprisoned and discharged. Meanwhile, Gen. McKenzie, who Scheller pointed out killed innocent people with his withdrawal directive, has yet to be held accountable for his actions.
“The difference between my situation and his; the hypocrisy perfectly illustrates the problems facing our military,” he said. “And then after the investigation was complete, they came out and publicly said, ‘Yeah, it was a mistake. It was a bad mistake. But he’s OK. We’re going to let him keep doing what he’s doing.’”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley testifies during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images)
Even though Scheller’s decision to publicly express his opinion on the Afghanistan withdrawal cost him his 17-year career in the military, the former Marine stood by the fact that he would not change anything about speaking up.
“There’s statements that I might have gone back and tweaked because they took away from the content of what I was saying but I wouldn’t have changed anything,” he said. “This is very personal for me. I believe in everything I said, so I’m not apologetic.”
“This is one of the most important conversations we can have right now and I just didn’t see anyone else having it.”