“I further expect that any suspicions of sexual abuse will be immediately reported to the chain of command, regardless of who the alleged perpetrators or victims are,” Army Gen. John Campbell said in a statement Tuesday. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan pushed back against recent media reports that U.S. troops were told to ignore suspicions of sexual abuse committed against children by their Afghan allies in past years.

“I personally have served multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan and am absolutely confident that no such theater policy has ever existed here, and certainly, no such policy has existed throughout my tenure as commander,” Gen. John Campbell wrote in a strongly worded statement released Tuesday.

Campbell was responding to a New York Times article chronicling the story of a number of Marines and soldiers who witnessed Afghan soldiers sexually abusing children. Some service members were told to ignore it, while one was kicked out of Afghanistan for intervening.

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Capt. Dan Quinn, an Army Special Forces soldier, was relieved of his command and removed from the country after he beat an Afghan militia commander who kept a boy chained to his bed, according to the Times article.

Even before the recent reports, however, rampant sexual abuse at the hands of Afghan security forces had been reported extensively in Ben John Anderson’s VICE documentary, “This is What Winning Looks Like.” The documentary follows a group of Marines training Afghan security forces in Helmand province in 2012 and chronicles their frustration with their Afghan counterparts’ rampant drug use, corruption and a host of other issues frequently encountered by coalition forces. The documentary can be watched here:

The entire text of Campbell’s statement can be read below:

NEWS RELEASE

2015-09-22-01

STATEMENT FROM COMMANDER, RESOLUTE SUPPORT AND UNITED STATES FORCES-AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan (Sept. 22, 2015) – Statement from Gen. John F. Campbell, Commander, Resolute Support and United States Forces – Afghanistan:

Recent media reports citing alleged cases from 2010, 2011, and 2012, have claimed that in the past a command policy existed within the Afghan theater of operations that U.S. forces were to ignore suspicions of sexual abuse committed by Afghans against children.  I personally have served multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan and am absolutely confident that no such theater policy has ever existed here, and certainly, no such policy has existed throughout my tenure as commander.

Consistent with clear U.S. Department of Defense policy on the issue of sexual assault, trafficking of persons, and similar matters, I expect all personnel to treat others with respect and dignity.  I further expect that any suspicions of sexual abuse will be immediately reported to the chain of command, regardless of who the alleged perpetrators or victims are.  The chain of command will take appropriate action under applicable law, as well as DoD and service regulations.  If the abuse involves Afghans, a report shall be forwarded to me through operations channels, copied to the Staff Judge Advocate, so that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan can be advised and requested to take action. I have personally spoken with President Ghani on this issue and he made it clear to me that the Afghan government will not tolerate the abuse of its children, or any of its people, and will thoroughly investigate all allegations and administer justice appropriately.

I want to make absolutely clear that any sexual abuse or similar mistreatment of others, no matter the alleged perpetrator or victim, is completely unacceptable, and reprehensible.

My expectations also apply to non-U.S. personnel assigned to the Resolute Support mission, consistent with their national policies and regulations.

h/t Small Wars Journal