You can only lose so many wars and remain in your command bubble for so long. From Hunter DeRensis at libertarianinstitute.org:
During the founding of the United States, Pennsylvania earned the nickname “keystone” for its essential role—geographic, economic, and political—in winning American independence. Two and a half centuries later, Pennsylvania maintained its Keystone State status in the now concluded war in Afghanistan.
In 2013, after the peak of the insurgency, state Adjutant Gen. Wesley Craig said that Pennsylvania endured “by far” the most National Guard deaths of any state. In the past two decades, according to tracker icasualties.org, the state has seen 93 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in addition to Guardsmen, along with more than 400 wounded.
What do these sacrifices mean, many Pennsylvanians wonder, if the soldiers fighting our wars have no faith in their commanding officers—and moreover, if there are no consequences for predictable failure?
Last Friday, U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller filmed a viral Facebook video in reaction to the suicide bombing at Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members. “People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability saying, ‘We messed this up,’” Scheller said, accusing the secretary of defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other top brass of “not holding up their end of the bargain.” Scheller was relieved of command that same day and has since announced his intention to resign from the Marine Corps.
His disillusionment is not isolated. Last weekend, I spoke with a born-and-bred Pennsylvanian and active-duty U.S. Army soldier who expressed similar disappointment in our military leadership. He prefers to stay anonymous to protect himself against the type of retribution faced by Scheller.