Green Beret who hit admitted Afghan child rapist will stay in the Army

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland.


By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 29, 2016

WASHINGTON – Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, a Green Beret once selected for involuntary separation from the service after he struck an Afghan police commander who had admitted to raping a child, will remain in uniform.

An Army board on Wednesday determined Martland’s military personnel file contained an “error or injustice,” an Army spokesman said Friday morning. Removing that error from his record means Martland, 33, will continue to serve at least through the end of his enlistment.

The Army initially selected Martland, a recipient of the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor, to leave the service by November 2015 through the Qualitative Management Program, a method used to determine which noncommissioned officers would be part of the Army’s force reduction. In October, the Army decided to allow him to remain in service to appeal his case at the request of several lawmakers. The service again delayed its decision on Martland in March.

“The Army Board for Correction of Military Records considers each case on its own merit when determining to grant or deny an applicant’s request,” said Army Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk, a spokesman for the service. “… In Sgt. 1st Class Martland’s case, the Army Board for Correction of Military Records determination modified a portion of one of (his) evaluation reports and removed him from the (Qualitative Management Program) list, which will allow him to remain in the Army.”

Martland, whose cause has been championed by former Marine Corps officer Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and other lawmakers, has maintained the only blemish on his personnel record is an October 2011 “memorandum of reprimand,” issued by Brig. Gen. Christopher K. Haas, then-commander of the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command in Afghanistan.

That reprimand was issued after Martland and his detachment commander hit an Afghan local police commander in September 2011 while deployed to a remote combat outpost in Kunduz Province. The Green Berets shoved and slammed Abdul Rahman into the ground after he’d admitted to chaining a 12-year-old boy and sexually assaulting him repeatedly for several days.

Martland and his commander, former Army Capt. Daniel Quinn, were relieved of duty and sent back to the United States for their actions that Hass wrote were “the intentional assault” of Rahman.

Quinn left the Army the following year while Martland eventually reenlisted and has continued serving in Special Forces.

A spokesman for Hunter said Friday morning that the congressman was “elated” to receive a call from acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy on Thursday night confirming Martland would be allowed to continue his service.

Hunter “thanked (Murphy) for doing the right thing, and for putting Charles back in the fight,which is what Charles always wanted,” said Joe Kasper, Hunter’s chief of staff. “We’ve worked a lot of these types of cases as an office and this is perhaps the most gratifying outcome of them all.”

Martland’s case thrust into the spotlight the long-standing open secret in Afghanistan of the sexual abuse of children, especially young boys, commonly called “bacha bazi” or “boy play.”

Accusations surfaced that American servicemembers were instructed to turn a blind eye to the practice. Pentagon officials have denied that was the case, but spokespersons for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan have said American troops are not required to report allegations of child sexual abuse. The Pentagon inspector general is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the issue.

Last month, Hunter introduced legislation dubbed the “Martland Act” that if made law would require American servicemembers to intervene if a child is sexually assaulted on American-controlled bases throughout the world.

“The Pentagon finally took action and did the right thing,” Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., said Friday morning. “Going forward, I hope the Department of Defense will learn from Martland’s case and avoid punishing those who stand up for American values at home and abroad.”

Twitter: @CDicksteinDC