Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, the veteran now infamous for beating an Afghan commander that raped a child, has struggled to get reinstated in the military since he was pulled out of Afghanistan. Though his appeal was at first rejected, Army Secretary John Mchugh granted Martland a 60-day reprieve to pursue an appeal for his discharge.
McHugh made his decision to give Martland more time to mount his appeal after hearing from Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Thornberry wrote in a letter to McHugh that Martland was a hero standing up for American values and that it was wrong to punish him for his actions.
“Congress cannot substitute our judgement for that of the military chain of command,” Thornberry wrote in the letter. “We are, however, responsible for ensuring that the processes in place are fair and adequate to the demands of an Army at war. In my review of SFC Martland’s case, I noted potential procedural errors in due process. I believe the best recourse now would be to allow SFC Martland to remain in the Army long enough for him to prepare an appeal with adequate military counsel and for the Army to act on such an appeal.”
While McHugh did not announce whether or not he agreed with Thornberry, he decided to grant Martland the reprieve “out of respect for Chairman Thornberry’s continued strong support for our military and his personal appeal.”
The relationship between American military members and Afghan soldiers has been put under a microscope ever since the New York Times published an expose accusing the Pentagon of ordering American troops to turn a blind eye towards sexual abuse in Afghanistan. Veterans, lawmakers and pundits alike have voiced their support for Martland and his colleague Capt. Dan Quinn for saving a ten year-old boy from his abuser.