In 2011, two Army Green Berets stationed in the Kunduz Province assaulted
an Afghan police official they had learned had been keeping a young boy
in sexual slavery. Now, those two soldiers are gaining support from lawmakers,
comrades, and others after being subjected to harsh administrative actions
that have effectively ended their careers.
The Daily Beast reports, Sgt. First Class Charles Martland and Capt. Dan Quinn were assigned
to village stability operations—working alongside Afghani locals
to build relationships and train police officials—when they learned
that police official Abdul Rahman was keeping a young boy chained to his
bed. Allegedly due to pleas from villagers and the boy's mother, the
soldiers did something about it and attacked Rahman.
The next day, Colonel Steve Johnson visited the base to speak with soldiers.
Johnson was instrumental giving the soldier administrative punishments
for their actions, claiming "they put their team’s life at
risk by doing what they did, by risking catastrophic loss of rapport,"
and the entire base was "out there alone with minimal protection
and relied on local Afghan police and their relationship with the district
governor." Adding more complexity to the case, sexual abuse is considered
"systemic" in Afghanistan and is regarded by the Army to be
a cultural issue rather than part of their primary mission.
Now disciplined, Martland and Quinn are prevented from ever being promoted
again, but some are now calling for a reconsideration of their case. Support
for Martland and Quinn is strong online (where many of their fellow servicemen
must resort to anonymous handles) and Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of
the House Armed Services Committee, has been appealing to the Secretary
of Defense to review the case.
"That exemplifies the problem with the Army," Rep. Hunter told
The Daily Beast. "To say that you’ve got to be nice to the
child rapist because otherwise the other child rapists might not like
you is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard."
A "Cultural" Dilemma
Even Colonel Johnson admits that child abuse in Afghanistan has a different
(and troubling) cultural standing than it has here in America, but still
maintains that the soldiers should have acted differently. By resorting
to violence, the soldiers failed to "take the big-picture view,”
and "didn't fix anything by doing what they did. If anything
they made it worse.”
The Daily Beast details however, there is some suspicion that the soldiers may have believed
that Afghan officials may have let the abuse stand—or that they
lacked the training to deal with the situation in the first place. Military
personnel are now exposed to plentiful information on how to deal with
and prevent sexual abuse among the ranks but receive zero training on
how to assess and handle sexual abuse when it’s encountered in foreign
While Colonel Johnson has remained steadfast of his assessment of the case
and his assertion that "you cannot try to impose American values
and American norms onto the Afghan culture," others are more skeptical.
As one anonymous service member expressed in a LinkedIn discussion on
Quinn and Martland's case: "De Opresso Liber [to liberate the
oppressed]… is this our creed or just talk?”
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