Continuing his fight to keep a decorated Green Beret in uniform, Rep. Duncan Hunter has thrown his support behind the senator who put a hold on Eric Fanning's nomination to be the next Army secretary.
"My support for your action, as you also stated yourself, is nothing personal," Hunter, a Republican from California and former Marine officer, wrote in a letter to Sen. Pat Roberts. "The ability of any senator to hold a nomination is an effective mechanism to ensure the executive branch is forthright, transparent and accountable."
Roberts, R-Kan., placed a hold on Fanning's nomination last fall. A "hold," permitted by Senate procedures, prevents a vote from reaching the Senate floor. Roberts placed a similar hold on former Army Secretary John McHugh's nomination in 2009 when he learned that Fort Leavenworth, home to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas, was being studied as a potential site for relocating prisoners if the facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is closed. McHugh retired Nov. 1.
Fanning, who was nominated in September for the Army's top civilian job, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week for his confirmation hearing.
Army Under Secretary Patrick Murphy, who was sworn in Jan. 5, is serving as acting secretary.
It's unclear now when or if Fanning might be confirmed.
In his letter to Roberts, sent Wednesday morning, Hunter asked the senator to consider the case of Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland as part of his hold.
Sgt. First Class Charles Martland
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Charles Martland
Martland, who Hunter described as a "first-rate warrior," is being kicked out of the Army for beating an alleged child rapist in Afghanistan. In October, he was given a 60-day reprieve to file an appeal with the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records after Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke with and wrote a letter to McHugh.
Martland and his then-detachment commander have admitted to attacking an Afghan Local Police commander in Kunduz province in 2011. Martland, a Bronze Star recipient and 11-year veteran, has re-enlisted and served since then and wants to remain in the Army. He was flagged for involuntary separation through the Army's qualitative management program because of his role in the assault.
Martland has gained many supporters, including Hunter and the VFW, and many consider him a hero for his actions. Hunter, in his letter to Roberts, also noted that Martland has the "full support of his command and immediate leadership."
Since he was granted the 60-day reprieve, Martland has resubmitted an appeal to the QMP decision.
"Recently, a decision within Army Human Resources Command recommended that the Army uphold the judgment that Martland be removed from service, although a final decision has yet to be made about his future," Hunter wrote in the letter. "My own position: I am not offended by, nor do I take any issue with, Martland's confrontation of the child rapist. Martland was part of a small team of Green Berets, entrusted to keep America safe in ways that often go unreported or unnoticed, whose mission was being put at risk due to the illegal action of a corrupt ALP commander."
Hunter went on to ask Roberts to "consider the case of Charles Martland as the confirmation process for Eric Fanning continues. The only suitable course of action, I firmly believe, is to permit Martland to continue his service in the U.S. Army."
Martland's case now goes back to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records for a final determination, said Joe Kasper, Hunter's chief of staff.
Hunter wrote to Roberts in an effort to publicly declare his support for the senator but also to encourage the Army to do the right thing, Kasper said.
California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter wants the Air Force to prioritize "the development and deployment of counter-UAS technology, including directed energy, to supplement advances on kinetic targeting."
Photo Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP
"You've got a guy who's able-bodied, knowledgeable, who can do something beneficial in so many ways, whether it's applying his craft in the war zone or educating and training other NCOs. Instead he's just in limbo while bureaucrats keep shuffling their feet," Kasper said. "We're left with no option than to push the issue through this way. If the Army truly, truly wants to do the right thing here, it's there for them to do. Tell me [Martland is] not the kind of guy you want to retain, just because he slapped around a child rapist who deserved what he got."