We recently learned that Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland had his appeal denied by the Army as he seeks to prevent his forced discharge from the service. The chain of events stems from his participation in the beating of a pedophile Afghan local police official who had chained a local boy to his bed and repeatedly raped him. (I’m skipping the “alleged” here since the official confessed to holding the boy captive.) Now, with the date of his discharge rapidly approaching, Martland has found an ally in one California congressman and is taking his side of the story public. (Fox News)
A Green Beret ordered discharged after he and his team leader body-slammed an alleged Afghan child rapist is speaking out against the Army’s effort to punish him, as he fights to stay in the service.
“Kicking me out of the Army is morally wrong and the entire country knows it,” Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland said, in his first public statement on his case.
The detailed written statement, requested by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., was shared by the congressman’s office with FoxNews.com. Hunter, who has advocated on Martland’s behalf, intends to submit the statement to the House Armed Services Committee…
“While I understand that a military lawyer can say that I was legally wrong, we felt a moral obligation to act,” he said.
The Army has found another commander who was in country at the time and is willing to speak out against Martland. He speaks of “vigilantism” and takes the position that both Martland and Capt. Daniel Quinn took things too far and “beat the crap” out of the rapist. Martland disputes the details, but that hardly seems to be the point as I see it. So what if he did beat the guy within an inch of his life? Considering what he admitted to doing he’s lucky to be alive, frankly. Bad things happen in war and he certainly deserved to have some of them happen to him.
Unfortunately this isn’t as black and white of a case as we might like and I acknowledge that part of the ongoing legal conflict. We need to take a very gentle hand when the civilian government begins stepping in to override the military’s system of discipline and order. As egregious as the actions of the rapist may have been, if Martland was found to be defying a direct order from his superiors he has to be held accountable for that aspect of his actions. Soldiers may receive any number of orders they don’t agree with during a time of war but they still have to follow them. Of course, in this case, if someone had ordered him not to interfere, the government needs to be aggressively investigating where that order came from, how high up the chain of command it went and who put the policy in place. Someone needs to be held accountable.
But by the same token, there is always room for a bit of reason under extraordinary circumstances. Perhaps with a bit of negotiation on the Armed Services Committee we could buy Martland a bit more time for the investigation to play out and come up with some sort of punishment short of terminating his career. (Again, assuming he actually violated an order.) The entire situation is a hot mess and at least on the surface I have to agree with the Sergeant that this seems to be in immoral punishment for a very moral act in the face of dealing with a monster.