In a long battle that lasted over six months the Army has finally decided to retain SFC Martland. SFC Martland faced expulsion from the Army after defending a child who was raped by a local Afghan. SFC Martland confronted the child rapist and is alleged to have engaged in a physical altercation. I don’t care what happened – because I think I understand the rage and anger he felt. That could have been me.

My A-team resided in a rural part of southern Afghanistan, in a village that had been a Taliban haven for years. There was no one to trust. We moved into a mud compound and maintained our directive to blend in. We had to build the infrastructure from scratch. There was a lot of work to do and not enough hands to help. There were simple things we needed help with, like filling sandbags and laundry. One day a few kids helped us pack sand bags. They loved it. While, Omar, an Afghan, assisted with the laundry.

The kids loved to help and were innocent, sweet, and fun. We gave them each a dinar for their support from our local worker fund. We had money for work for the locals to improve the base and help out. We even had an Afghan electrician come through and ensure we grounded and lined the compound correctly. That electrician had the worst smell I’ve ever encountered. Typing it now brings the smell back to my nose.

The leader of the kids went down to the local store, which had everything and could get you anything if you asked – and bought a large plastic container of candy and shared it with the rest of the village kids. He was named “Snacks.” The second kids, who always wore blue carried the moniker, “Blue.” Omar, the laundry specialist, was eventually let go as he was blatantly feeding information to the Taliban. He whipped his phone out to text in front of us during a mission brief. We were disappointed like when your friend does something foolish. We sent him on his way. The kids remained, and I enjoyed their company. They helped out now and then and were a joy to be around. Their jobs were simple things outside of our facility and they were only able to help when we had a down day from operations.

Eventually, the Taliban threatened Blue’s life, and it became apparent that the kids’ lives were in danger. We went to the Afghan local police (ALP) to see if they could stay with them. The answer was yes, but it wasn’t that simple. The deputy ALP commander, who is now dead, had the decency and respect to tell us directly if the kids stayed with them – they’re were going to get raped. Fair enough, the kids weren’t going to stay there. Imagine if we hadn’t been told that truth and the ALP Commander was as sick as the one SFC Martland faced. Passion and anger would have taken hold, and a similar situation would have ensued. At war, you’re already amped up and switched on – probably most of the time. You can’t be shocked that a Green Beret broke out in passion over a young boy being raped in a cruel manner when it was right there in front of him.

In fact, it’s more shocking that the outrage in the media and the response was this event at all. Members of Congress even cared. How is the culture of a place where we have been at war since 2001 a surprise for so many people? Yes, ‘man love’ Thursday in Afghanistan is a thing. That’s all there is to it. The American people and the media should be more outraged that Afghan central government has set to make meaningful gains in its country; because we as a nation are going to have a deal with that, today, and over the coming years.

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