There is something wrong with this picture. It has been astounding to witness the very different treatment of U.S. Marine Corp Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller and Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
The difference in treatment between these two men over the last two weeks has been striking. On the one hand is Lt. Col. Scheller, who posted a video demanding accountability from military leaders and the Commander in Chief for their epic failure in Afghanistan, who is now incarcerated as he awaits an Article 32 preliminary hearing. Scheller, a battalion commander with 17 years of active duty, made the video post on August 26th, 2021, the day that 11 Marines, one Navy corpsman and one Army soldier were killed during the Biden Administration’s recklessly and dangerously executed evacuation from Afghanistan.
Why is he incarcerated? Rules for Courts-Martial (R.C.M.) 305 (h) (2) (B) requires that within up t0 72 hours the service member’s commanding officer must make a determination or show just cause that it is reasonably foreseeable that the service member will either not show for trial, pretrial hearing or investigation or will engage in serious criminal misconduct. We’ve seen none of that here. In fact, his record of 17 dedicated years appears to be excellent leaving us with the inescapable conclusion that his incarceration is to serve a political end, whether it be for rhetoric or retribution.
No doubt LTC. Scheller will be tried for his actions—although there have been no charges to date—but to treat him in this fashion in the meantime is unacceptable. It’s worth noting that Scheller stated in the video that he was certain he would be relieved of his command and lose his pension (which he was willing to sacrifice because he felt so strongly about speaking out) but he didn’t anticipate being court-martialed for the simple reason that there is no indication he disobeyed a direct or specific order.
Let’s contrast this with the situation regarding Gen. Mark Milley. If our Commander in Chief was not addled Gen. Milley would likely have already been fired. What did Milley do? He engaged in covert discussions with, among many others, his Chinese counterpart at the end of the Trump term. He apparently spoke several times to reassure Beijing that the U.S. wouldn’t attack it at the end of Trump’s term and that if an attack were ordered he would let his military counterpart know in advance—he would let the enemy know an attack was coming. Such conduct destructively usurps and undermines the chain of command! Apparently, Milley also made approximately 20 such calls to other military leaders in Afghanistan, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.K.
This is certainly treachery but how is this not treason? How is this not a stark, direct breaking of the chain of command? How can notifying your countries’ enemies of possible military or other strategic action by your country not be criminal? Can you imagine the screaming and recriminations if a Biden general sympathetic to Trump had undertaken such questionable actions?
It is stunningly ironic that the only military official, Scheller, suffering a punitive consequence is doing so because he demanded accountability for the disastrous Afghan withdrawal while his superior, Gen. Milley, whose conduct has been far more egregious has so far seen no repercussions.
I can’t add anything to the question Senator Tom Cotton asked General Milley in a recent meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee:
“General Milley, Why Haven’t You Resigned?”
Royal Alexander is a Shreveport-based attorney