'Martland Act' would empower U.S. troops to block sexual abuse on foreign soil
By Kyle Jahner
A congressman wants members of the U.S. armed forces to stop sexual abuse on military installations and forward operating bases, including crimes by allied troops in their own countries.
A congressman wants to force the Pentagon to empower members of the armed forces to confront sexual abuse on military installations and forward operating bases, including crimes by foreign nationals in their own countries.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., announced Wednesday he would introduce a bill that, should it become law, the Mandating America's Responsibility to Limit Abuse, Negligence and Depravity, or Martland Act. Named after a Green Beret who helped assault an alleged Afghan child molester, the bill would force the Defense Department to expandenact new policy expanding the scope of abuse service members should intervene to stop. The bill says it is in response to reports that soldiers and Marines have been "advised to respect cultural and religious practices of Afghans and told that sexual abuse perpetrated by local allies was a matter of Afghan law."
The legislation, officially the Mandating America's Responsibility to Limit Abuse, Negligence and Depravity, or Martland Act, says that "human rights violations, including child abuse, shall not be conducted or condoned on any U.S. military instillation" in the U.S. and abroad — whether the perpetrator is American or foreign. It requires the Pentagon to submit to Congress "a comprehensive plan detailing the procedures by which the Secretary will implement the policy" within 90 days of the bill's passage into law.
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland
Photo Credit: Defense Department
The bill cites as an example and precedent a Pentagon policy that instructs troops armed forces members to oppose prostitution, forced labor and human trafficking. As an example demonstrating the need for the policy, tThe bill quotes a U.S. soldier stationed in southern Afghanistan who said Afghan police officers brought boys onto a base to sexually abuse: "At night we could hear [the boys] screaming but we're not allowed to do anything about it."
Hunter's chief of staff, Joe Kasper, told the Army Times that Hunter is working to secure co-sponsors and plans to introduce the bill later this week as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
A Pentagon spokesperson said the Defense Department does not comment on pending legislation.
Quinn and Martland were reprimanded for the incident in Kunduz province, but remained in the Army; Martland eventually re-enlisted while Quinn left the Army in 2012. But last year the resulting blemish in his NCO evaluation report from that incident tabbed Martland along with hundreds of other noncommissioned officers for involuntary separation via the Army's qualitative management program, a quality-control process.it's mechanism for downsizing while in theory keeping the best soldiers.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., has been a supporter of Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland.
Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Hunter, other members of Congress and several fellow soldiers have fought what they characterize as the Army kicking out a talented 11-year service member and Bronze Star recipient for confronting a child abuser. His separation, originally set for last Nov. 1, 2015, has repeatedly been delayed by the Army, most recentlya two-month push-back until May 1 to allow him to appeal to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records. <>