|SFC Charles Martland|
According to Martland and other members of our U.S. forces, the apparent culture of [sexual] abuse has caused the Afghan population to view the Afghan Local Police (ALP) and the U.S. soldiers who back and train them, as worse than the Taliban – offering serious blowback to the already challenged U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
According to an article in The New York Times, rampant sexual abuse of children by Afghan officers — otherwise known as “bacha bazi” or “boy play” — isn’t new. While some U.S. soldiers and Marines have specifically been told not to intervene, they have chosen to do so anyway in the face of potential disciplinary action. Hence, we have the story of SFC Martland and former Captain Daniel Quinn, who were disciplined by the Army after they beat a powerful local police official who they concluded had been raping a small boy. Such discipline is allegedly part of the unspoken requirement from the Chain of Command to ignore such activities among the local Afghan allies; you know .... "just look the other way because it’s their culture.”
But let me quote SFC Martland's side of the story, and then you tell me if you could turn a blind eye and ear to such immoral acts. Quinn and Martland were told by a young Afghan boy and his mother, through an Afghan interpreter, that the boy had been tied to a post at the home of Afghan Local Police commander Abdul Rahman and raped repeatedly for up to two weeks. When his mother tried to stop the attacks, they told the soldiers, Rahman’s brother beat her. Quinn says he verified the story with other ALP commanders from neighboring villages. Then they invited Rahman to the camp to discuss the allegations.
“After the child rapist laughed it off and referenced that it was only a boy, Captain Quinn picked him up and threw him,” Martland writes. Martland then proceeded to “body slam him multiple times,” kick him in the rib cage, and put his foot on his neck. “I continued to body slam him and throw him for fifty meters until he was outside the camp,” Martland writes. “He was never knocked out, and he ran away from our camp.” The incident lasted no more than five minutes, he says.
Quinn told CNN that they took the action they took because otherwise nothing would be done by the Army or local authorities. “The reason we weren’t able to step in with these local rape cases was we didn’t want to undermine the authority of the local government,” he said. “We were trying to build up the local government. Us acting after the local government fails to can certainly undermine their credibility.... Even when we patiently explained how serious the charge was, he kept laughing. As a man, as a father of a young boy myself at the time, I felt obliged to step in to prevent further repeat occurrences.” And you must understand that these rapes are oftentimes occurring at U.S. military installations, making the locals look upon our troops as complicit. It is not exactly the best way to develop an atmosphere of trust among the Afghani people.
But it is the words of Marine Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. in that New York Times article that are especially haunting. Before he was gunned down in Helmland Province in 2012 by a 17-year-old Afghan ‘tea boy’ for a local police chief, Buckley told his father that at night he could hear Afghan officers sexually abusing young boys, but there was nothing he could do about it. "At night we can hear them screaming... it made me sick to my stomach."
Naturally, officials at the Pentagon deny that there are explicit orders to ignore the rape of children. But they will also admit that policing the local population is not "the priority of their mission". But I ask you, what are our soldiers expected to do? In a written statement requested by House Armed Services Committee member, Representative Duncan Hunter, Martland stated, "While I understand that a military lawyer can say that I was legally wrong, we felt a moral obligation to act."
And should that not be this man's primary duty? A military without the "private morality" that this nation's first Commander-in-Chief extolled will become nothing less than a cold, heartless machine designed to wage war. Obviously, by ignoring the abuse of these Afghan boys, we were not commanding the respect of the Afghan people --- and our soldiers could not respect themselves.
I applaud the courage and the boldness of Sergeant 1st Class Charles Martland and Captain Daniel Quinn. While the official military position is that they took the law into their own hands in the form of vigilantism, I prefer to look upon their actions as those of moral, righteous men. The words of Anglo-Irish statesman and political theorist Edmund Burke have never been more appropriate ... "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Thank God that there are men like Martland and Quinn who exemplify this truth.
3 John 1:11 "Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God."