The Office of the Inspector General (IG) at the Department of Defense (IG), the Pentagon’s top watchdog, announced Tuesday that it will “immediately” begin an investigation into the U.S. military’s response to allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan security forces.
Breitbart News was among the first news outlets to shed light on American service members complaining that they were being reprimanded for reporting the rape of children by high-ranking members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Force, which includes army and police units.
Eventually, mainstream media outlets like The New York Times began reporting on the subject.
The reports from the media and American troops have seemingly prompted the DOD IG to launch a new investigation that will examine how U.S. military leaders dealt with the repeated accusations of child sexual abuse by Afghan security forces.
“We plan to begin our research on this subject immediately,” says the Pentagon watchdog in an Oct. 28 memo announcing the investigation. “The purpose of our research is to gather and review information, identify criteria, and analyze previous reporting as a basis for potential future work.”
The inspector general will confine its research to allegations of child rape by Afghan government officials since 2011.
To accomplish its objectives, the IG office plans to obtain and analyze relevant testimony and court records as well as review reporting from other government watchdogs such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Congressional Research Service (CRS), and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
The IG also plans to interview stakeholders at all levels, including military officials, appropriate journalists, and lawmakers along with their staff.
As Breitbart News has reported, various U.S. service members who deployed to Afghanistan claim that they saw evidence of widespread sexual abuse and believed there was a policy, possibly unofficial, encouraging them to ignore the crime rather than report it.
The IG will focus on finding out whether or not there was any formal or informal U.S. military guidance discouraging American service members from reporting child rape crimes as has been alleged.
Pentagon officials, including Army Gen. John Campbell, the top commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, have denied the existence of a formal policy directing American troops to ignore child rape by Afghan security forces.
Sexual abuse of boys by Afghan men in power is widespread in Afghanistan. The practice is commonly known as “Bacha Bazi” — literally, “boy play.”
The IG also expects to find out whether or not U.S. service members were trained to identify and respond to alleged child sexual abuse.
Several American troops have said they were punished for confronting Afghans who they believed were raping children, in some instances on joint military bases.
Breitbart News has highlighted in detail the case of Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, a decorated Green Beret who has been reprimanded for confronting an Afghan local police commander after he repeatedly raped a 12-year-old boy.
Sgt. Martland is being forced out of the Army as a result. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who mentioned the child rape allegations of Sgt. Martland in numerous letters to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, is fighting to keep the decorated Green Beret in the military.
Hunter, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told Breitbart News that the Army’s decision to dismiss Sgt. Martland shows the “moral decay” currently plaguing military leadership.
The investigation by the Pentagon’s watchdog will also look into which U.S. laws and DOD regulations as well as international laws and treaties might govern the American military’s handling of the child rape allegations.
It will also attempt to find out how many cases of child sexual abuse by Afghan government officials have been reported to the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan and what action, if any, has been taken.
The IG also intends to look into how many cases have been reported by U.S. troops to the Afghan government and what action has been taken as a result.