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Clayton Hill

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

Congress held hearings with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Gens. Mark Milley and Kenneth McKenzie last month. Trying to understand the botched retrograde and troop's vacation in Afghanistan, they grilled all three. Each, in his own way, appeared truthful and indicted the administration above them did not follow their recommendations. They blamed others for mistakes, but clearly the tenants of warfare concerning withdrawals were not followed.

Tactics and essential security requirements were sidestepped to accomplish artificial, arbitrary goals. Thirteen service members and others were killed, and many more wounded.

One Marine not directly involved in the operation, a battalion commander previously deployed there, Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, voiced his opinion regarding the failed mission in Afghanistan. He had lost fellow Marines. He did so while still on active-duty status as a battalion commander.

His attorney, however, indicated Scheller attempted to resign first, but was denied. Intent in resigning after the fact still placed him in jeopardy with chain-of-command, so he was removed for cause. Proper order would have been a resignation; then his freedom of speech would not have been an issue.

While now out of isolated confinement, he still faces hearings and possible court-martial. He is also being silenced to avoid further scrutiny. It is an outrage a commissioned officer was in "the brig" without charges — totally against code of military justice, outside normal punishment standards, and I believe it was a result of undue command influence — but from whom?

No crime was committed, only insubordination of change of command. That Scheller criticized the operation ahead of resignation (if resignation was his full intent) is the only fault I see.

If a crime were obvious (it's not) then house arrest was the appropriate method to secure officers. He is not a "Major Hasan." Austin denied knowing about the incident. If true, the commandant of USMC (or whoever in the chain of command is part of this travesty of the UCMJ) must be brought into the situation to explain and justify. A congressional inquiry is already in play, but that is not enough. Scheller's rights are being violated.

The only satisfactory resolution should be an immediate review by the secretary of the Navy with the dismissal of charges and an honorable discharge. To do otherwise will result in serious moral issues for the remainder serving.

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