Fragging in Afghanistan?
Angry troops at times react violently against their superiors.
by Stephen Lendman
If it's happening, it's not reported. Washington wants no mention or suggestion of what plagued Vietnam. More on that below.
Writing about the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky said:
"The moral condition of the army was hopeless. You might describe it by saying the army as an army no longer existed. Defeats, retreats, and the rottenness of the ruling class had utterly undermined the troops."
War in Vietnam affected US soldiers that way. Until 1967, order was well maintained. After Tet in late January/February 1968, things changed. Mutinies forced the Pentagon to disguise them with language like "combat refusal."
Soldiers disobeyed orders. Most were search and destroy missions. They were put in harms way against formidable enemies. At times, entire companies defied commanders. As fear of punishment faded, incidents mushroomed. So did fragging.
Wikipedia calls "attacking a superior officer in one's chain of command" with intent to kill. Fragmentation grenades were usually used. Hence, the term fragging. No fingerprints were left behind.
As frustration and anger grew, so did fragging incidents. They became the price extracted for being ordered in harm's way against enemies refusing to quit.
After Tet, they became widespread. At least 800 incidents occurred, perhaps 1,000 or more. Precise numbers are unknown because army officials stopped counting. Judge Advocate General Corp officers believe only 10% of attempts were reported. Other estimates suggested they occurred at five times official figures. Officers shot by their men were excluded. They were listed as wounded or killed in action.
Army officials admitted they couldn't account for over 1,400 officer and noncom deaths. Perhaps as many as one-fourth occurred at the hands of subordinates. The Army was at war with itself. It was unprecedented, but didn't reflect revenge. It was about opposing search and destroy missions. Soldiers wanted them ended. Refusal had its price.
Officers were often warned in advance. Smoke grenades were left near their beds. Tear gas grenades or grenade pins followed if warnings went unheeded. Fragmentation grenades punished the stubborn. Soldiers weren't playing games. Everyone was the enemy. Officers at times fragged troops they suspected of planning to target them.
In one battalion, the commander refused to distribute arms. He feared he and other officers would be shot. Congressional hearings in 1973 estimated around 3% of officer and NCO deaths from fragging. Other methods included handguns, automatic rifles, booby traps, knives, and bare hands.
In 1971, Col. Robert Heinl, Jr. said:
"The morale, discipline and battleworthiness of the US Armed Forces are....lower than anytime in the century and possibly in the history of the United States. By every conceivable indicator, our Army that remains in Vietnam is in a state of approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having....refused combat, murdering their own officers and NCOs, drug-ridden and dispirited when not mutinous."