Good news is tough to come by at the Pentagon these days. But good news is exactly what Army Sergeant First Class Charles Martland got this week when Army officials made a surprise announcement: they’ve decided to reinstate the decorated Green Beret. A hero by record and reputation, Sgt. Martland lost his career over something that any parent or decent American would have done — intervene in an ongoing rape of an innocent Afghani boy.
When Martland confronted the attacker (a member of the local police), the rapist laughed off the soldier’s horror, insisting it was “just a boy.” Shocked and outraged, the Sergeant and a fellow Green Beret said they felt a “moral obligation to act.” With a few shoves and kicks, he made it clear that tying up little children to posts and raping them for up to two weeks at a time would no longer be tolerated by the American force. Like most soldiers, they were sick and tired of standing by while Afghans tortured local children and undermined everything the U.S. was trying to accomplish through the police presence.
But in the Obama military where everything is upside down, no good deed goes unpunished — and Martland was kicked out of the Army. The brass accused him of “demonstrating poor judgment.” But if anyone was demonstrating poor judgment, it was the officers ousting him! After several attempts to fight the ruling, the two-time Bronze Star winner enlisted the help of Representative (and Marine) Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) — who helped ignite a national firestorm over Martland’s ouster.
Everyone from veterans groups to conservative congressmen protested the decision — insisting that Martland didn’t deserve punishment, but promotion. They’re right. When the Army is unable to meet recruitment goals and retention rates slip, combined with high suicide rates and near historically low morale, not to mention its own sexual assault problems, we need more good soldiers — not less! The news that Charles Martland could be discharged for doing what our soldiers were taught — protecting the vulnerable — stunned and outraged Americans all across the country. More than 130,000 of them signed on to petitions that FRC delivered to the chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees demanding that they lean on the Army to reinstate the Sergeant and honor him for the stand he took. Finally, “the Army did the right thing and we won,” a pleased Rep. Hunter said yesterday, “The American people, won.” For Martland, the relief at the end of this long and painful journey was palpable. “I am real thankful for being able to continue to serve,” he told reporters.
FRC’s own special forces general, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, applauded officials for doing the right thing. “The Army’s egregious initial plans to discharge Sgt. Martland over this incident were wholly misguided. It is an appalling wrong to tell our soldiers that they must ignore the sexual abuse of children and forever live with the memory of [their] screams. I am grateful the Army leadership came to its senses and is allowing Sgt. Martland to remain in the Army. We are also grateful to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas)… for their efforts to resolve this injustice.” Thanks to you, too, for making your voices heard! What America needs is more men of conviction — not less.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.