Army Secretary John McHugh on Tuesday agreed to postpone discharging an Army Green Beret for his role in beating an Afghan police official who was sexually abusing an Afghan boy.
The decision was announced after Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, asked McHugh to give Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland time to prepare an appeal.
"Out of respect for Chairman Thornberry's continued strong support for our military, and his personal appeal, Secretary McHugh has agreed to postpone Sgt. First Class Martland's discharge from the Army for 60 days to allow him to file an appeal with the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records," said a statement from the Army.
Thornberry said he found due process procedural errors and suggested the discharge was the result of budget cuts instead of Martland's actions, which occurred in 2011.
Martland was due to be dismissed from the Army on Nov. 1 for helping another soldier beat an Afghan police official who had tied a boy to his bed to serve as a sex slave, a practice known as "bacha bazi" — or "boy play" — in Afghanistan.
Thornberry also suggested existing U.S. military policies regarding reporting human rights abuses are not sufficient.
“Congress cannot substitute our judgment for that of the military chain of command,” Thornberry wrote in a letter to McHugh. “We are, however, responsible for ensuring that the processes in place are fair and adequate to the demands of an Army at war.”
Gen. John Campbell, the commander in charge of the U.S.-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Service Committee on Tuesday that the United States has had a policy since at least 2011 that human rights abuses should be reported up the chain of command.
Thornberry said he was not satisfied that the policies are robust enough, or that troops find them reliable.
“Military personnel must have a viable and responsive reporting system that will have real impact when confronted with human rights abuse in Afghanistan and elsewhere,” Thornberry wrote.
The Army said in its statement that while it is true that it had to reduce the size of its force, Martland was required to be considered for separation.
However, it added, "It is our desire to ensure every Soldier receives fairness and due process and we continue to act accordingly."