It goes without saying that not all countries understand, appreciate, or respect the same laws as the United States. In some cases, ours are seen as behind the times; in others, forward thinking and advanced. In all cases though, local laws are local laws, and they must be respected right? What about when they conflict so morally with common sense and basic values that ignoring these violations would be an affront to everything that you stood for?
Two service members found themselves in this position in Afghanistan. A war torn country where the ‘might makes right’ attitudes of the few can cause significant grief and pain for the many is where they experienced it. Captain Dan Quinn, then a Special Forces Captain, and Sergeant First Class Charles Martland’s names have become more popular in recent months as their story is finally being told.
Both served in the Kunduz Province, serving alongside local police units. The reports that came in were disconcerting to say the least. The locals reported issues, not with the enemy, but with the local police who were abusing their positions. Three cases were reported.
The first, a local commander raped a 14 year old girl he saw in the fields. The report resulted in his imprisonment for one day, and the girl was forced to marry him afterwards. The second, another leader stole his soldier’s pay checks and spent them on young boys for personal pleasure. The final straw would be their undoing though.
In 2011 they reported that a local commander had kidnapped and chained a local youth to a bed, and repeatedly raped him. When the mother attempted to get her son back, the commander beat her up as well. When confronted, the commander simply laughed after admitting to it.
The two Special Forces soldiers reached the limit of their tolerance. They grabbed the commander and threw him to the ground. For this, they were reprimanded. CPT Quinn was relieved of his position, and later left the service. Four years later, SFC Martland is preparing to be separated due to derogatory information in his records as a result of the incident.
In a society where the rule of law is a standard and available to all, there are many better ways to approach his situation. In Afghanistan, there are few to no options. Even after reporting the incidents, little to no problems were resolved, and those in charge of the commanders simply recognize it as a way of life.
The US government must weigh carefully the justifications for going to war with a country. Deploying to stop terror and atrocities from occurring is an honorable justification to most. Watching those same atrocities being committed from allies and being told to look the other way is immoral. We should expect better of our service members, and we should support them when they make choices that defend the weak and abused.
If senior leaders wish to identify poor decisions that subordinates make, they should also acknowledge the bigger picture that these actions represent, a refusal to become the very thing they came to the country to stop.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.