A Marine officer has been relieved of duty after he was seen in a viral video demanding accountability from military leaders following Thursday's attack in Afghanistan's Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 100 Afghans.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was relieved of command Friday afternoon "due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command," Marine Corps spokesperson Maj. Jim Stenger told NBC News in a statement.
Scheller confirmed his departure in a Facebook post, saying his "chain of command is doing exactly what I would do … if I were in their shoes."
In his post, Scheller expressed appreciation for the opportunities provided by the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion throughout his career, adding that he wouldn’t be making statements to the press until he officially exits the Marine Corps.
The announcement of Scheller's exit came about 18 hours after he uploaded a nearly 5-minute video of himself questioning the actions of U.S. senior leaders in Afghanistan on Facebook. Scheller is seen in full uniform sitting next to his military vest and helmet.
Scheller, who has been in the Marine infantry for 17 years, said in the video that one of the people killed in the Kabul attack was "someone I had a personal relationship with."
"I'm not making this video because it is potentially an emotional time," he said. "I'm making it because I have a growing discontent and contempt with my perceived ineptitude at the foreign policy level. I want to specifically ask some questions to some of my senior leaders."
Scheller said "a lot of Marines are posting on social media" as the nation grapples with the fallout in Afghanistan. In his view, "the reason so many people are upset on social media right now is not because a marine in the battlefield let someone down. ... People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands accepting accountability."
In his statement, Stenger said: "This is obviously an emotional time for a lot of Marines, and we encourage anyone struggling right now to seek counseling or talk to a fellow Marine. There is a forum in which Marine leaders can address their disagreements with the chain of command, but it’s not social media.”
Scheller said he has sought out counseling in the past and that there is a "time and place for that," but that won't bring answers to questions around the way the U.S. has conducted its withdrawal from Afghanistan, resulting in a series of chaotic events over the past few weeks.
“I’m not saying we’ve got to be in Afghanistan forever,” Scheller said in the video. “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 air base, before we evacuate everyone? 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.'"
As many military members wonder whether lives were lost in vain during America's longest war, Scheller said that “potentially all those people died in vain if we don’t have senior leaders who own up and raise their hands and say, ‘We did not do this well in the end.’ Without that, we keep repeating the same mistakes."