WASHINGTON -- Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, introduced a House resolution Wednesday asking the Pentagon to reinstate a decorated Green Beret who is being forcibly retired by the U.S. Army for blowing the whistle on a child rape in Afghanistan.
Sgt. First Class Charles Martland confronted an American-backed Afghan commander in 2011 "for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave," Buchanan said. Martland reportedly chose to confront an Afghan local police commander who had admitted raping a young boy and beating his mother for telling the U.S. military, and was subsequently forcibly retired. He is set to be discharged from the Army on Nov. 1.
"Driving Sgt. Martland out of the Army for standing up for American values is a national disgrace," Buchanan said. "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 resolution states one U.S. soldier stationed in Afghanistan said he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys, and "at night we could hear them screaming but we're not allowed to do anything about it." Soldiers told the New York Times they were instructed to ignore sexual assaults by Afghan police in order to maintain good relations with allies.
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The House resolution would be nonbinding, but Buchanan said it would send a "strong message" to the Pentagon that its actions in the Martland matter are unacceptable.
"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 said. "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."
Martland was previously awarded the Bronze Star for heroism after he jumped in the turret of a damaged Humvee under enemy fire to return fire and help his teammates gather sensitive equipment after the vehicle was struck by an explosive device. His appeal to continue his service was denied by the Army in September.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055.