Monday, May 11, 2009

Fragging in the American Occupational Army in Iraq

A Brief History & Perspective

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.
The death toll from today’s shooting was the highest for American service members in a single attack since April 10, when a suicide truck bombing killed five near the police headquarters in the northern city of Mosul.


  1. GetaLife, not sure the infrequency of fragging incidence in Iraq is a reliable index of morale. The more frequent rate of fragging during the Vietnam war is attributed to basically a conscripted (non-professional) military force. However, the well-documented rise in suicides of Americans serving in Iraq may portend a trend in failing morale.

  2. I agree with you in regard to conscription Vigil, but the only difference between men and women who were drafter and those who enlisted was the former were forced and the latter were not. Both forces are professional. The situation in Vietnam was very different from Iraq. It was a different war in different terrain during a different time. The loss of life in Vietnam was roughly 20 times what it is in Iraq to date. The fact that there were men there who were forced to be there probably also influenced the fragging rate, so in that respect your position is most valid. I do agree that it may not be the sole indicator of morale in Iraq, as there are just a few isolated incidences when looked at in the long view.

  3. Iraqi and U.S. personnel took the five into custody in an operation inside the Green Zone before dawn on Friday, according to an Iraqi official involved in the investigation into the killing of James Kitterman.

    Kitterman was found bound, blindfolded and fatally stabbed in a car in the district, formally known as the International Zone, on May 22. The 60-year-old Houston, Texas, resident owned a construction company that operated in Iraq.