A term from the Vietnam War, used primarily by U.S. military personnel, most commonly meaning to assassinate an unpopular officer of one's own fighting unit, often by means of a fragmentation grenade, hence the term. Fragging incidents have been seen far less often in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.Today, five American service members were killed at a counseling center on an American military base in Baghdad on Monday, gunned down by a fellow soldier who was later taken into custody. The killings appear to be the single deadliest episode of soldier-on-soldier violence among American forces since the United States-led invasion six years ago.
The suspect had been disarmed after an earlier incident at the center but returned with another weapon. As well as those who were killed, three other military personnel were wounded.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, said the shootings occurred “in a place where individuals were seeking help” for combat stress. The violence, he said, was a tragic reminder of the need for greater “concern in terms of dealing with the stress” and also “speaks to the issue of multiple deployments” as well the need for finding ways of “increasing dwell time,” so that military personnel spend more months at home between deployments.
It is time to review the previous record with respect to fragging within the ranks of the American Occupational forces:
- Most recently, in September 2008, an American soldier was arrested after the shooting deaths of two comrades at their patrol base near Iskandariya, about 25 miles south of Baghdad. The soldiers had been assigned to a unit based at Fort Stewart, Ga. The case is currently in military court.
- In June 2005, two officers serving with the New York Army National Guard at a base near Tikrit died after an antipersonnel mine was placed next to a window, and a supply specialist was charged in the deaths. The supply specialist was acquitted in military court last year.
- In April 2005, Sgt. Hasan Akbar, of the 101st Airborne Division, was sentenced to death for a grenade attack on fellow soldiers in March 2003 in Kuwait, at the beginning of the American-led war in Iraq. Sergeant Akbar, who was the first American since the Vietnam era to be prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier in wartime, was convicted of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder after he threw grenades into tents and then opened fired on soldiers. He killed two officers and wounded 14 soldiers at Camp Pennsylvania.