The U.S. Army is kicking out a decorated Green Beret after an 11-year Special Forces career, after he got in trouble for shoving an Afghan police commander accused of raping a boy and beating up his mother when she reported the incident.
The case of Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland now has the attention of Congress, with Rep. Duncan Hunter writing to Defense Secretary Ash Carter challenging the decision.
“I am once again dismayed by the Army’s actions in this case,” Hunter, R-Calif., wrote in a letter to Carter.
Martland is described by many of his teammates as the finest soldier they have ever served alongside.
But his Army career changed course during his second deployment to Afghanistan in 2011. After learning an Afghan boy was raped and his mother beaten, Martland and his team leader confronted a local police commander they had trained, armed and paid with U.S. taxpayer dollars. When the man laughed off the incident, they physically confronted him.
They were punished by the Army at the time — but why exactly Martland is now being discharged is a matter of dispute. Army sources cited his accolades, including being named runner-up for 2014 Special Warfare Training Group Instructor of the Year from a pool of 400 senior leaders in Special Forces, in questioning the decision.
Casey, a former Green Beret teammate who would only use his first name since he is now a member of a federal counterterrorism team, told Fox News, “If I was a commander, I would have given him an award. They saved that kid’s life.”
Martland grew up south of Boston, in Milton, Mass. An all-state football player in high school, he set his sights on playing college football after graduating in 2001. Martland went for the Florida State University team, which just finished a season ranked #4 in the nation.
He made the team, impressing legendary head coach Bobby Bowdon and famed defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. Still, he often remained on the sidelines. When Pat Tillman, a former NFL football player who volunteered for the Army Rangers, was killed in Afghanistan in 2004, he saw Tillman’s sacrifice as motivation to apply for another elite program. Martland dropped out of college and graduated in 2006 from Special Forces Qualification Course, one of the U.S. military’s toughest training programs. Over the years he became a jumpmaster, combat diver and sniper.
After a deployment to Iraq in 2008, he deployed to Afghanistan in January 2010 as part of a 12-man unit. He and his team found themselves fighting large numbers of Taliban militants in volatile Kunduz Province.
On one mission, one of their vehicles was struck by an IED, setting off a Taliban ambush. Fox News is told Martland rushed to the scene. He jumped in the turret of a damaged Humvee, exposing himself to enemy bullets while returning fire to help his teammates gather sensitive equipment.
“I thought he was gone, then he comes out of nowhere to save us,” said an active-duty Green Beret who requested anonymity.
Martland was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor for his actions. According to one evaluation, he also was “praised” by Gen. David Petraeus, then commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.
But very quickly, the Green Berets realized they had a problem with many of the Afghans they were training to become local police officers.
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