No Minister

Quartered Safe Out Here (updated)

With all the brickbats being thrown at President Biden in recent days over the Afghanistan catastrophe I’d been meaning to write something about the other guilty parties in this gigantic FUBAR.

The Pentagon and Intelligence agencies, or more precisely the people who lead them.

There is obviously a bit of a meltdown going on within the Biden Administration as members of his government, in this case the State Department and the Pentagon, openly contradicted the President over claims he had made in recent press conferences, sometimes just hours after he made them. It’s extraordinary and I cannot recall seeing anything like it.

They’ve also found themselves on the back foot with their previously friendly MSM, with even the likes of the NYT, CNN and MSNBC going at them hard for once (it won’t last). But in this war of words have been sources from the military and intelligence agencies contradicting the claims that Biden was just telling people what they had told him. These sources have made it quite clear that Biden has been lying over the last couple of months about the situation in Afghanistan.

But I’m not so sure that we should believe them any more than we should believe Biden and his team. In a situation like this everybody is covering their backsides, and it’s hard to reconcile some of these arguments with what the military and intelligence people were saying themselves in public not long ago.

“On Bagram, Bagram is not necessary tactically operationally for what we’re gonna try to do here with Afghanistan – consolidate on Kabul, in support of their government.” – General Mark Milley

Now there is evidence that it’s not just outside critics of the Pentagon that have issues with the leadership but also the rank and file.

In an extraordinary video that has gone viral, a US Marine with multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan over a period of 17 years, Lt. Colonel Stuart Scheller, decided to openly risk the loss of his career, pension and who knows what else, by demanding that his own chain of command take responsibility for their failures.

It did not take long for the entirely expected hammer to fall. By 2:30pm that same day, he had been “relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence”. He himself states that that is entirely right and proper.

This is what a hero looks like. This is what Speaking Truth To Power actually is. What courage that took, knowing what it would cost him. He accepted what he knew was coming.

But the followup also shows the deep anger and upset among the Marine Corps and I would bet across the entire US military.


UPDATE: I completely forgot how this is backed up by a post I made a few days ago, that time quoting an anonymous US Army General Officer known to the Law professor who put his comments up, Afghan Veterans: one American view. His attitude is far harsher than Scheller’s:

DoD must be halved. There are too many flag officers, too many agencies, departments, and directorates.

Let us not forget the intelligence agencies... And when its reorganization is done, if the overall size of the nation’s intelligence apparatus is a quarter of what it is now, that still is too large.


So Scheller is not alone. They can cashier him, but if they don’t listen to what he is saying, there will be more speaking out and/or they will lose more good people.

Instead it is people like this that need to go. Now.

Back in July I wrote on General Milley’s absurd, ignorant and damaging comments about his own military with the focus that he and his political master, Secretary of Defense Austin, were bringing on uncovering “extremists” and “White Rage” in the ranks. Perhaps if they’d been focusing more on actual military things like planning an orderly withdrawal, this disaster could have been avoided.

At a minimum, if they disagreed with the political decisions they should have resigned. But the US military leadership is now stuffed to the gills with people like this; politicians in all but name who play politics in public.

At the same time the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has informed active duty and retired service members that they weren’t allowed to criticise Joe Biden or any of the senior government leadership, as The Daily Wire reported.

I don’t recall this happening during Trump’s time, when the air was filled with (safely) retired officers criticising him in very strong, one would say, abusive terms. Even recently the DOD itself acted politically in going after Tucker Carlson on their own website.

As another former combat veteran said, even as he agreed that when he served he would have also relieved Scheller of command for this:

But the standard has changed. The leadership changed it. The rule is now uniformed military can do politics. So I would give him a medal.

I found a partial transcript of what Scheller said:

“People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘we messed this up.’

If an O-5 battalion commander has the simplest live fire incident, EO complaint. Boom. Fired. But we have a secretary of defense that testified to Congress in May that the Afghan National Security Forces could withstand the Taliban advance. We have Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs — who the commandant is a member of that — who’s supposed to advise on military policy. We have a Marine combatant commander. All of these people are supposed to advise.

And 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.” 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?” [….]

But what I’ll say is, from my position, potentially all those people did die in vain if we don’t have senior leaders that own up and raise their hand and say ‘we did not do this well in the end,’” he said. “Without that we just keep repeating the same mistakes. This amalgamation of the economic/corporate/political/higher-military-ranks are not holding up their end of the bargain.

I want to say this very strongly: I have been fighting for 17 years. I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders ‘I demand accountability.’”

Written by Tom Hunter

August 29, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Military, US Politics, USA

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. The military brass know what a clusterfuck this all was going to become. But they’re not gonna want to rock the boat and resign. They want their retirement bonus – a sinecure appointment to the board of Raytheon, General Dynamics, Lockheed or Honeywell for sterling service to the MCIC (military congressional industrial complex)

    Porky Roebuck

    August 28, 2021 at 9:01 pm

  2. ‘I was wrong in the assessment of what they were doing,’ said Carrington, ‘and therefore I am responsible’ – that word again. In interviews he reiterated the point:

    ‘There has been a British humiliation. I ought to take responsibility for it.’

    That’s Lord Carrington, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, who resigned two days after the Argentine invasion of the Falklands in 1982. He was joined by Sir Humphrey Atkins, the Lord Privy Seal, and Richard Luce, the Minister for Latin-American Affairs.
    Carrington felt that ‘it was a matter of honour’ since they were the men who had ben charged with the security of the Falklands and evaluating the Argentinian regime.

    That world is long gone. I’m sure the thought of resigning has never even crossed the minds of Milley, Austin or anybody else in the chain of command.

    Tom Hunter

    August 28, 2021 at 9:13 pm

  3. Andrei

    August 29, 2021 at 9:23 am

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