A Republican lawmaker is accusing the Pentagon of "dishonoring" a decorated Green Beret who retaliated against an Afghan police commander for repeatedly raping a young boy.
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R., Fla.) demanded the U.S. Army "immediately" reinstate Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, who was punished by the service for confronting an Afghan child rapist at an outpost while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. The Army has repeatedly delayed its decision on Martland’s future after he appealed a Qualitative Management Program review board ruling recommending his discharge.
"The Pentagon needs to stop dishonoring a two-time Bronze star recipient and reinstate Sgt. Martland immediately," Buchanan said in a statement Wednesday after reports surfaced that the Army would delay it’s decision to May 1.
"It is unfathomable that the Pentagon has yet to reinstate Sgt. Martland," Buchanan, who has been a vocal proponent of Martland’s reinstatement, said. "The Defense Department has had several months and several opportunities to right this wrong. I’m concerned that bureaucratic red tape is blocking common-sense action."
Martland faced reprimand after he and another soldier physically confronted the Afghan commander for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a young boy in 2011. The Army review board argued last year that Martland’s actions warranted his discharge by last November, though he was allowed to appeal the decision. The Army was expected to make an official decision on Marland’s appeal on Tuesday, which has now been delayed.
Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Army, said that the delay was meant "to allow consideration of his application to correct his records by the Army Board for Correction of Military Records."
The delay comes after lawmakers, including Buchanan and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.), have fiercely advocated on Martland’s behalf for the service to reinstate him. The congressmen together introduced a bipartisan resolution last September demanding Martland’s reinstatement, which Buchanan urged Congress to move on Wednesday.
"Sgt. Martland stands ready to once again serve his country," the lawmaker said. "The Pentagon and Congress should do everything in their power to make that happen as soon as possible."
An online petition, started by the American Center for Law and Justice four months ago, calls on the U.S. military to "exonerate" Martland. The petition has accumulated well over 300,000 signatures.
Martland was one of multiple U.S. service members who were allegedly punished for reporting the sexual abuse of children at the hands of Afghan forces, according to a New York Times article published last September.