- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2016

The Taliban are reportedly exploiting the pervasive culture of sexual child abuse by senior and mid-level Afghan military and police commanders to launch deadly insider attacks against local forces and their U.S. and NATO advisers, says one senior defense lawmaker.

In a letter sent to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Monday, Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, cited recent reports that local Taliban commanders were sending young children into Afghan military outposts, under the guise of being child sex slaves, to carry out these attacks.

One report, according to Mr. Hunter, claims six attacks against Afghan security forces carried out by these child soldiers during a four-month period beginning in January ended with hundreds of local troops injured and killed.

“This is concerning, given our interests in Afghanistan, but it also requires serious attention due to the presence of U.S. forces and their ongoing mission” to train and advise Afghan military and police forces, Mr. Hunter wrote.

The Pentagon needed to begin taking “immediate steps to stop child rape from occurring in the presence of U.S. forces and reduce any risk of coinciding insider attacks,” he wrote.

These steps would include a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual child abuse by Afghan security forces personnel, as well as “ensuring [U.S.] service personnel
are not discouraged from reporting cases [of abuse] … or even intervening, if necessary,” Mr. Hunter added.

Defense Department’s Inspector General is currently conducting an inquiry into a September 2011 incident where Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland was dishonorably discharged after physically confronting an Afghan police chief on their base accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy.

Sgt. Martland and his team leader, Capt. Daniel Quinn confronted the police chief after the boy’s mother reportedly told the Americans about the molestation.

Capt. Quinn opted to retire rather than to be discharged over the incident. Army officials alleged both soldiers “demonstrated poor judgment, resulting in a physical altercation with a corrupt ALP member,” according to a performance review of Sgt. Martland’s time in Afghanistan. “Judgment and situational awareness was lacking during an isolated instance,” it added.

The Army reversed its decision to discharge Sgt. Martland in April, claiming Army Board for Corrections of Military Records “modified” the poor performance evaluation on which he was to have been kicked out.

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