Congressmen Introduce Resolution to Reinstate War Hero Who Blew Whistle on Afghan Rape

Sgt. Charles Martland dismissed from Army after defending child victim of sex abuse

Rep. Vern Buchanan
Rep. Vern Buchanan / AP
September 30, 2015

Reps. Vern Buchanan (R., Fla.) and Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) on Wednesday introduced a House resolution demanding the reinstatement of the decorated Green Beret who blew the whistle on U.S.-allied Afghan forces raping boys.

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland was dismissed from the Army after standing up for an Afghan rape victim in 2011. Though Martland appealed the decision, he was rejected last week and will be discharged at the beginning of November.

Marltand’s story is one of several cases that have illuminated an alleged Pentagon policy instructing U.S. soldiers not to report suspicions of Afghan forces sexually abusing children in Afghanistan.

Both Buchanan and Hunter have advocated for Martland in the wake of reports indicating the Army punishes soldiers and Marines who blow the whistle on Afghan forces raping boys.

"Driving Sgt. Martland out of the Army for standing up for American values is a national disgrace," Buchanan said in a statement. "Now is the time for the U.S. House to demand Sgt. Martland be reinstated for his honorable actions in defense of innocent children."

"The fact that Sgt. Martland was reprimanded by the Army for confronting a corrupt Afghan commander and child rapist shows a complete lack of morality among the Army’s risk-averse leadership," Duncan, a former Marine officer, said Wednesday.

The House resolution, though non-binding, would immediately reinstate Martland into the Army.

Last week, Buchanan demanded that the Army reinstate Martland and called on House and Senate Armed Services Committees to investigate the matter. Days later, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R., Texas), who chairs the House committee, received a report on the circumstances surrounding Martland’s ouster.

Thornberry said Friday that the committee is probing whether soldiers were discouraged from reporting the sexual abuse due to the Obama administration’s push for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"It is, I think, one of the broader questions for us to look into. Was there a rush to get in and out?" Thornberry said. "If there was, what effect did that have? So, I don’t know that that’s the case, but I do think it’s important for us to look at the context. There was an increase in a rush to get out."

Buchanan has also sent a letter to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey demanding that the alleged policy of punishing soldiers who report suspicions of Afghans raping children be reversed.

Meanwhile, Gen. John Campbell, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has denied the existence of such a policy.

"The only people who should be punished are the ones who condoned a policy of ignoring child rape on a U.S. military base," Buchanan stated Wednesday. "It’s bad enough if we were ignoring this type of barbaric and savage behavior, it’s even worse if we are punishing American heroes who try to stop it."