GOP rep: Delaying discharge of Green Beret 'good first step'

One of the congressmen who has been advocating for a Green Beret called the decision to delay his discharge a “good first step,” but continued to push for the soldier’s reinstatement.

“Postponing Sgt. Martland’s separation from the military for 60 days to allow him time to file an appeal is a good first step, but the Army must act to reverse his forced discharge,” Rep. Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE (R-Fla.) wrote in a letter Wednesday to Army Secretary John McHugh.

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland was due to be dismissed from the Army on Nov. 1 for his role in beating up an Afghan police official who was allegedly sexually abusing an Afghan boy. But the Army announced Tuesday night that it would delay the discharge for 60 days so Martland could appeal.

The decision came after McHugh spoke about the case with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Martland’s case has become the face of allegations that the U.S. military encouraged troops to ignore when their Afghan allies sexually abused children and that troops were punished when they did intervene.

On Tuesday, Gen. John Campbell, the commander in charge of the U.S.-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Service Committee that the United States has had a policy since at least 2011 that human rights abuse should be reported up the chain of command.

Even before 2011, he said, there was no policy against reporting abuse.

In his letter, Buchanan called Martland a hero and said his reinstatement should be “full and swift.”

Buchanan previously co-sponsored a resolution with Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) calling for Martland’s reinstatement.

“Driving Sgt. Martland out of the Army for standing up for American values is a national disgrace,” Buchanan wrote in the letter. “It’s bad enough if we were ignoring this type of barbaric and savage behavior; it’s even worse if we are punishing American heroes who try to stop it.”