De Oppresso Liber – TTG

The U.S. Army has reversed a decision to discharge a locally championed Green Beret for "body slamming" an Afghani police commander officer accused of raping a boy. 
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland will be allowed to continue to serve at least through the end of his enlistment after an Army board on Wednesday determined that his personnel file contained an “error or injustice,” according to Stars and Stripes.

“For everyone who fought for this, thank you,” said Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper. “This was not only important for Sgt. 1st Class Martland and his family. It was important to every serviceman and woman who when far away from home has wondered if the American people still care. The answer is yes.” A former Green Beret himself, Freitas took up Martland’s cause in February, delivering an impassioned speech on the floor of the statehouse that went on to be viewed online by more than a million.

Martland has maintained the only blemish on his personnel record is an October 2011 “memorandum of reprimand,” issued by Brig. Gen. Christopher K. Haas, then-commander of the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command in Afghanistan, according to the Army Times. The reprimand was issued after Martland and his commander hit a local police leader in September 2011 while deployed to a remote Afghani combat outpost. The Green Beret shoved and slammed Abdul Rahman into the ground after he’d admitted to chaining a 12-year-old boy and sexually assaulting him repeatedly for several days, according to the Army Times. Martland was relieved of duty and sent back to the U.S. for his actions that Hass wrote were “the intentional assault” of Rahman. (Star-Exponent)


I was not aware of this case until a few days ago. I don’t know how I missed it. My point in posting this now is to beseech all members of this committee of correspondence and all those who visit SST to view the speech made by Delegate Nick Freitas on the floor of the Virginia Statehouse last February on the behalf of SFC Charles Martland. Freitas is a former Special Forces NCO. In his five minute speech, he captures the essence of the case and the essence of what it means to be a Green Beret. 

For more background on this incident and the aftermath, review the Army Times articles linked below. Anything further I have to say on this will be in the comments.


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35 Responses to De Oppresso Liber – TTG

  1. Daniel Nicolas says:

    Sad that it took outside influence to turn the tide in favor of SFC Charles Martland.
    The speech from Delegate Nick Freitas gives me hope. I am glad that there are still men with such passion for liberty among us.

  2. Christopher Rogers says:

    Colonel Sir,
    Many thanks for bringing this incident to the attention of your international readership, whilst I may be a critic of numerous US Military actions, all directed I hasten to add by a highly dysfunctional political leadership in Washington, the fact remains that both serving soldiers, the NCO and Officer, for their actions in protecting a young youth from a sexual predator, should not be admonished, but rather have a medal of honour bestowed upon them for reminding us all they not only did they have a heart, but that they showed compassion beyond the call of duty, compassion that I applaud and hope others follow my lead.

  3. LeaNder says:

    Love, this TTG
    Saw this coinage somewhere today, and admittedly it fascinated me as coinage:”the blurring effect of a blizzard of details”, although in this specific case it may not matter. But more a combination of national interests the single person and cowardice.
    I fully agree, my highest respect for the comrade, or is this a somewhat misguiding term/usage? In any case it’s not my intention to signal my basic political adherence.
    I am withdrawing for a while as babbler-in-chief around here. But I surely won’t stop watching.

  4. Degringolade says:

    Thanks TTG:
    This is what the SF is really all about.

  5. turcopolier says:

    Yes. This is what Army Special forces is about. I suppose that I am the oldest SF soldier here having qualified at Bragg in 1964. I met Aaron Bank there when he came for a celebration and served under Arthur “Bull” Simon. IMO they would both be proud of Martland and Freitas. De Opresso Liber. pl

  6. John Minnerath says:

    Spineless PC command who would destroy a mans reputation to blindly follow misguided directives.

  7. John Minnerath says:

    I’m sure you and I are two of the oldest old farts here.
    I finished training and got my Beret in March 1963.

  8. kooshy says:

    I wonder if this NYT report is correct , Kerry to meet Moallem the Syrian FM, doesn’t sound right.
    “Mr. Kerry was in Geneva to meet with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem of Syria; Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir of Saudi Arabia; the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura; and other officials.”

  9. P.L.! Many thanks for this posting!

  10. b says:

    @kooshy . Kerry met the Jordanian and the Saudi foreign minister. Lavrov and/or Moallem did not come.
    Kerry is begging his “allies” to tell their proxies to split from al-Qaeda. Not gonna happen – at least on the ground.

  11. Dubhaltach says:

    What could be more honourable than sticking up for a raped child and his mother?
    When in time he leaves the army with an honourable discharge I hope that he has a VERY bright future ahead of him.

  12. Emad says:

    Sgt. Martland’s actions were valiant and commendable, but perhaps not reflective of local knowledge GBs should consider when making decisions.
    Another more local COA: 10,000 Afghanis; the man’s coin purse cut and stuffed into his piehole; his body left at the village square for all to see.
    Taleban claiming responsibility; people saying, “He had it coming,” every ANP flunky knowing that “the American” had something to do with it.

  13. Jonathan House says:

    TTG, Pat and all,
    I don’t have powerful connections; I’m usually skeptical about phone calls and letters to ‘my’ congressman/senator/president, but perhaps in this case that kind of thing might be useful. If you think it worthwhile to whom should I write?
    I’m sure there are others on this list are in my position.
    Jonathan House

  14. Kooshy says:

    Thanks b I thought the report can’t be correct. BTW some Iranian news sites, are reporting the resistance front’ force build up of R+6 for a major offensive in south Aleppo is nearly complete, and an offensive can start any time soon.

  15. Jonathan House,
    Writing and emailing your elected officials can be effective when done by enough people. This round has been won, but this is not the end of it. SFC Martland must reenlist one or more times in order to complete a career of 20+ years. There are many ways to stop this available to a vindictive military bureaucracy. I pray the Congressmen and Senators will stay on top of this. We should as well.

  16. Emad,
    Not only did the Green Berets follow their internal moral compasses, but their actions reflected the local knowledge they acquired by living with these people. Child abuse of this strain may be common in the area, but that does not mean it is accepted by the locals. According to one of the Army Times articles, the locals were appreciative of the Green Berets’ actions.
    I have a particular problem with those overly clever COIN enthusiasts who think they understood Afghan culture and accepted such child abuse as the way thing are. They are pitiful excuses for men and absolute disgraces to the officer corps. They deserve a bright light shined upon their despicable actions.

  17. elaine says:

    Rep. Duncan Hunter has been advocating for this honorable Sgt for quite awhile.
    The R.O.E. have been used to prosecute & send to Leavenworth several other honorable
    combat soldiers. I try to support the United American Patriots group as they try
    to legally defend these men.

  18. MRW says:

    You don’t know your own power. Little known to most: a handwritten letter is viewed as a minimum of 10,000 votes. Email is pointless these days; there was a time. A call is OK, although you should call the President’s Comment line for that: 202 456-1111, unless it’s something you know your congressman is about to vote on. Call both DC and local office.
    But a handwritten note to your congressman and/or senator is far more powerful. After all, congress writes the laws. The creation of separate smoker/non-smoker sections of planes in the early 1970s was the result of THREE letters–yes, three–to the airline (think it was American) with copies to their congressmen.
    The thinking is that anyone upset or pissed enough to write a letter means there are a lot more who feel that way. And since the Senate controls which military ump-de-ump gets a promotion, use that info.
    But you need to send to both local and DC offices and make that apparent in the “cc:” after your signature.
    No more than one page. If you type it, make sure you sign in blue ink.

  19. elaine says:

    Can’t help but wonder about the fate of the boy & his mother after their protector was disciplined & taken out of the area. Any news would be appreciated. & of course
    I also wonder if any punitive action was taken against the sadistic Afghan police

  20. Haralambos says:

    I think it might be useful for those more knowledgeable than I to elaborate on the nature of of the different elite forces, as you have on occasion in comments. US Army Special Forces is not a designation that applies to Navy Seals, Delta Force, and other designations, if I am correct. I lament the influence of the popular media presentations in suggesting that all of these are Rambo-like killing machines, Ninjas, or Samurai warriors.
    I recall one reply you posted several days ago correcting a comment someone made on force levels. My apologies for not managing to find that.

  21. D says:

    Things do occasionally go right in this world.

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not consider the commonplace phenomenon of drug-crazed young men shooting their way to death in US to be a reflection of American Culture.

  23. John Minnerath says:

    It isn’t over yet.
    The REMFs were forced to step back, that doesn’t sit well with those types. They can make the rest of his career very difficult.

  24. turcopolier says:

    Army SF (GBs) are armed, traveling teachers of various things who can also do direct action missions (raids, reconnaissance, etc.) The rest; Delta, Seals, Rangers are all direct action fighters who have no substantial teaching skills other than those that any soldier has for training his own unit and no real cultural knowledge. They have the much simpler job of just fighting. Needless to say the rigid, narrow minded people who are most of any military force’s leaders hate these guys. They know that the GB’s judge them and that is unacceptable. pl

  25. Babak,
    Very apt comparison. These are societal aberrations and pathological conditions, nothing to be tolerated as normality. Unfortunately, the world is full of these things. All the more reason to applaud and support those who do something about it

  26. bth says:

    Col., thank you for raising the case of SFC Martland. Moral courage exhibited by SFC Martland is such a rare thing with a high price. We need to protect it. How can we monitor the progress of this honorable man and assist as needed the course of justice?
    BTW Delegate Freitas gives one heck of a speech.

  27. Haralambos and others still befuddled by the mystery of the Green Berets,
    I wrote this as a comment here several years ago to questions about the Green Berets.
    “The SFODA organization has changed very little since Aaron Bank created it in 10th SFG(A) in 1952. At that time the idea was to work with resistance elements behind the Iron Curtain. That was still the primary mission when I was there in the early 80s. The ODA consists of 12 men. The NCOs are the heart of the team and receive beaucoup advanced training in their specialties. There are 2 communication specialists who, in my day, were skilled HAM radio operators. Today there is more emphasis on satellite and computer skills, so I’m told. There are 2 medical specialists who are close to field surgeons. They can set up local medical and veterinary clinics and advise locals on health and sanitation measures. There is a light and a heavy weapons specialist who can maintain, repair and train others in using almost any weapon known to man. The 2 engineers are demolition experts. My engineer sergeant could make a letter bomb that did not require extra postage. They can build and blow up bridges and advise on civic action projects. The team operations sergeant and assistant operations sergeant (usually functioning as an intelligence sergeant) originally come from one of the other specialties and, after much experience and additional training, become the team NCO leaders capable of leading the entire ODA. The ODA commander is a captain who, if he has half a brain, learns everything he can from the men he is blessed to command. The ODA executive officer was a lieutenant who was good for carrying a generator and jumping with the generator seat. (The seat always acted like a weathervane and spun you like a top when you exited the plane.) The XO is now a warrant officer. This was a brilliant move. The warrant officer was most likely an ops sergeant prior to going to warrant officer school.”
    “All members of the ODA study everything there is to know about their designated target areas and endeavor to learn the local language. This is not always the case, but it is the goal. All members also cross train in everyone else’s specialties. The wealth of knowledge and skills resident in an SFODA is remarkable. These men are not door kickers, shooters or operators. They are Special Forces soldiers.”
    Further on in that comment string I added this in response to a question about why the DOD hierarchy hates the GBs:
    “Why do they hate us? We may be perceived as hard to control, but I think it’s just that we think for ourselves, make our own decisions, act on those decisions and accept the consequences of our actions. SF would rather function like this all the time. It probably makes the generals feel superfluous. This doesn’t mean SF can’t be controlled. We have more than enough discipline to follow orders when necessary. However, it more likely an SF man will call bullshit on a half-assed plan than a conventional soldier. Commanders don’t like that. I guess it does boil down to Colonel Lang’s answer, “The complaint that senior commanders often have about SF men is that they are hard to control.”
    I hope this, and the Virginia Statehouse speech of Nick Freitas, helps some of you finally understand us.

  28. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to TTG,
    This rang a bell and I went back and checked. What I remembered was what had happened to a warlord around Kandahar on just this issue of raping a boy. What had slipped my mind is this: that’s how it all got started. After one battle at Jalalabad among the many crimes of the warlords was the rape of children. People were afraid to say or do anything about this.
    Mullah Omar was in the south, at his village, “Stonefort.” He had been involved in the worst kind of fighting up north and was said to be a very good shot, presumably with an antitank weapon. He had destroyed many Russian tanks. Then, his right eye was shot out. He became known as “Rund.” “One eye”. The Mullah spoke fluent Arabic. He was a great soldier and also a fine scholar. He went back to his village near Kandahar, and he taught a small class of religious students. There were stories abroad about the rape of children. One night he had a dream. In it, a woman came to him. “We need your help,” she told him. And more.
    The way I see it, the next morning at class, his fourteen students found a stack of equipment including Kalash. He probably threw one at the first student who got knocked in the chest, but picked it up. The others caught theirs. He lined them up and told them what was on his mind. “We are no longer students and teacher. We are now a military force.”
    One of the students asked him. “What do we call ourselves?”
    “We are all students including myself,” said Rund, “I for all of my life am a student and we are known therefore as religious students, so we shall be simply as we are, students of a madrassa, or “Taliban.”
    “Good,” said his class. “Now what?”
    “We are going up into the mountains, and you know that little girl they have up there, we are going to free her from them and we are going to kill those booshwhackers.”
    So they did that. Mullah Omar and his fourteen students.
    And many joined this new “Taliban.”
    There were two warlords that controlled the roads into Kandahar from Chaman. They put a chain across the highway and collected tolls. Each bus stopped many times and the fee was paid. These two warlords knew of a boy that each coveted. They got into a serious dispute with one another. They weren’t paying attention. Next thing they knew the Mullah Omar and the class of ’94 pulled up on one of these rapers and hanged him from the cannon of his tank. (Tends to stick in the mind somehow; that’s what I remembered.)
    Mullah Omar was a very wise man. No photos. The only photos were done by a British camera crew, and secretly. Some say he was 6’6″, others say not, more medium height. (As was OBL, only about 6′ or so.) The thing about the Taliban was they had these huge Turbans, absolutely extremist zoot-suit turbans.
    Mullah Omar is dead. He was an interesting guy. He was minding his business for the longest time and trying to do the right thing. God bless him.
    And also Sgt. Martland.

  29. Amir says:

    “Becheh bazi” or pederasty is a deeply ingrained revolting cultural practice in “rural-feudal” parts of Afghanistan (meaning 90% of the country). This practice is very well known to the top brass as well as the diplomates in Afghanistan:
    That is why the whole idea of bringing “representative democracy” to Afghanistan or reforming the country is a non-starter.
    There is a very touching documentary about this subject:

  30. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    The Taliban do straight up murder child abusers whenever they feel the need of getting more public backing, in other cases they opt to use such knowledge differently.
    There is a rumor about the Taliban having a “do not kill list”. This list is populated by the most disgraceful, corrupt pedophile trainwrecks currently employed the the Afghan governmnent in high positions, and these guys are, from the Talib pov. each worth a company.

  31. Haralambos says:

    Thank you for this information in such a concise definition.

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All over the Near East and North Africa and not just in Afghanistan – in fact. I think it has been a consequence of the separation of sexes.

  33. WILL says:

    Would it be correct to call the Green Berets SF and then distinguish the others by calling them SOF? special forces vs. special operations forces?

  34. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Our military uses special operations forces as a catch all term for all commando and commando-like forces including the Army Special Forces (GBs). It gets even more complicated when you go international. Check out the two Wikipedia entries for special forces and Special Forces (United States Army). We’re just going to have to live with the ambiguity.

  35. Tidewater says:

    Tidewater to Tidewater,
    Hmmmm. A bottle of Paso Dobles Magistrate (Barracks Road Kroger $9.99) red and a kilo of Wayside Diner peanuters for supper. (“Legend in a nutshell…”) Hookah very jolly! My program is on reset.
    The thing about Bamiyan–you see there the modernist power of the Absent.
    Yes! I absolve his gritty soul! I would have done the same for Jimmy Hoffa. I defy you all.

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