The Army on Thursday reversed a decision to discharge a decorated Green Beret for roughing up an Afghanistan police chief accused of raping a boy.
A brief Army statement said Sgt. First Class Charles Martland was no longer subject to a personnel drawdown, the Qualitative Management Program, because the Army Board for Corrections of Military Records “modified” the poor performance evaluation on which he was to have been kicked out.
Sgt. Martland had gained support across nation from veterans who said the soldier was unfairly paying a price for standing up to an accused child molester.
His case helped trigger an ongoing Pentagon inspector general investigation into whether commanders in Afghanistan were told to look the other way when senior Afghan officers sexually assaulted boys.
“Kicking me out of the Army is morally wrong, and the entire country knows it,” Sgt. Martland said in a signed statement last year. “While I understand that a military lawyer can say that I was legally wrong, we felt a moral obligation to act.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and a former Marine veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, had gone to bat for the Special Forces soldier.
“This is the absolute right decision and I commend the Army for showing true leadership,” Mr. Hunter said Thursday. “Charles did what anyone in a similar situation should do, he stood up for a defenseless child. That should never put his career in jeopardy.”
Mr. Hunter also said the fact Sgt. Martland “has a future in the Army signals that the new Army leadership is right for the job.”
This is a reference to the fact that the Army is now led by acting Secretary Patrick J. Murphy. Mr. Hunter had clashed with former Secretary John McHugh, once a Republican congressman.
In September 2011, Sgt. Martland and his team leader, Capt. Daniel Quinn, physically confronted an Afghan police chief on their base after a mother told of the rape of her 12-year-old son.
Both soldiers were disciplined for the confrontation, and Capt. Quinn decided to resign.
But Sgt. Martland fought to stay in. When all appeals failed, he petitioned the Army’s records correction board with the argument that his performance evaluation was technically flawed and should thus be removed from his service jacket.
The offending line in his evaluation said, “Demonstrated poor judgment, resulting in a physical altercation with a corrupt ALP member. Judgment and situational awareness was lacking during an isolated instance.”