A decorated Army sergeant who protected an Afghan boy from a child molester could find out any day whether his actions will end his career in the military.
Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a Green Beret with an 11-year Special Forces career, was stationed in Afghanistan in 2011 when the boy's mother came to him and said she'd been beaten and her son raped by a local police commander. Martland and another soldier summoned the police official and, when the man laughed at them, threw him off the base. Martland and Daniel Quinn were both disciplined for their actions.
Last year, amid military cuts, the Army Human Resources Command recommended Martland be discharged in part based on his disciplinary record, but an official decision by U.S. Army brass is expected by March 1.
“Charles did the right thing in Afghanistan by standing up to a child rapist and corrupt commander, and now it’s the Army’s turn to do the right thing and reverse the decision to expel him from the service.”
“Charles did the right thing in Afghanistan by standing up to a child rapist and corrupt commander, and now it’s the Army’s turn to do the right thing and reverse the decision to expel him from the service,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., whose office has been assisting Martland. “Permitting Charles to continue serving is in the best interest of the Army and the nation.”
Supporters mounted an online petition backing Martland and separately, 93 members of Congress have called for an investigation into the military's silence in the face of rampant sexual abuse of children in Afghanistan.
While Quinn left the military voluntarily, Martland, who graduated in 2006 from Special Forces Qualification Course, has always seen himself as a lifer. After a deployment to Iraq in 2008, he deployed to Afghanistan in January 2010 as part of a 12-man unit. He and his team found themselves fighting large numbers of Taliban militants in the volatile Kunduz Province.
Martland was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor for his actions. According to one evaluation, he also was praised by Gen. David Petraeus, then commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.
The 2011 incident occurred at the remote outpost where Martland was stationed. The 12-year-old boy and his mother showed up at camp, and the boy showed the Green Berets where his hands had been tied. A medic took him to a back room for an examination with an interpreter, who told them the boy had been raped by a man identiffied as Afghani Police commander Abdul Rahman.
Rahman allegedly beat the boy's mother for reporting the crime after learning that they went to the Army outpost. This led Martland and team leader Daniel Quinn to confront Rahman.
According to reports of the incident, Rahman confessed to the crime and laughed it off. This led Martland and Quinn to shove the smug police official to the ground
Rahman reported the incident to another Army unit in a nearby village, which led to Quinn and Martland being pulled from their assignments.
One year ago, the Army conducted a "Qualitative Management Program" review board and called for Martland - among thousands of other soldiers with prior disciplinary issues - to be "involuntary discharged” by Nov. 1, 2015.
Martland appealed the decision and a final ruling on his discharge has been delayed until now. With the deadline rapidly approaching, other legal advocates have come to his aid, and even garnered over 300,000 signatures in a petition calling for the decision to be overturned.
"After acting to protect a child from sexual assault from an Afghan commander, SFC Martland was punished and could be kicked out of the military at any time," said Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice. "What's equally disturbing are reports that the military has allowed Afghanistan forces to sexually abuse young children on U.S. bases.”