Recently, one of these forums here contained mention, in part, of the subject of “fragging” in Vietnam. People seldom mention personal knowledge of such things, although the subject has been discussed in detail long since Vietnam days. What made me think of this was that one of the posters who brought up the subject, was shortly thereafter responded to by another poster who took the poster to task for seemingly condoning such a thing.
I intended to begin this post with that thread, but I cannot seem to locate it now. Regretable, as the responder had stated to the effect that “fragging” was murder, and that no Marine should be a party to and/or condone murder. in any case, I applaud the now unknown responder who had both the decency and courage to respond as he did.
The following are some excerpts from articles on the topic. I am surprised that there is not more material available on this subject.
The following from the thread…
The Collapse Of The U.S. Armed Forces“
“Frag incidents” or just “fragging” is current soldier slang in Vietnam for the murder or attempted murder of strict, unpopular, or just aggressive officers and NCOs. With extreme reluctance (after a young West Pointer from Senator Mike Mansfield’s Montana was fragged in his sleep) the Pentagon has now disclosed that fraggings in 1970(109) have more than doubled those of the previous year (96).
Word of the deaths of officers will bring cheers at troop movies or in bivouacs of certain units.
In one such division — the morale plagued Americal — fraggings during 1971 have been authoritatively estimated to be running about one a week.
Yet fraggings, though hard to document, form part of the ugly lore of every war. The first such verified incident known to have taken place occurred 190 years ago when Pennsylvania soldiers in the Continental Army killed one of their captains during the night of 1 January 1781.”
“A Comparison Of Marine and army Performance”
There is perhaps no more crucial indicator that a unit has lost its discipline and cohesion than when soldiers kill their leaders for whatever reason. Information provided by the Office of the Secretary of the Navy does suggest that the problem of assassination of leaders may have been less of a problem among Marine units than in Army units.
Between 1964 and 1972, for example, the number of Marines charged with murder or attempted murder under the relevant articles of the UCMJ in all instances was only 121.8 An examination of the battle journals kept by Marine units reveals that in the First Marine Division 47 incidents of fragging were reported.9
The limited data indicate then that the incidence of fragging in Marine units may have been considerably below that found in Army units, which reported a total of 1016 admitted fraggings during the entire Vietnam War.10 The Marines may have done better in preventing the pathologies of individual soldiers within units from surfacing in the specific act of striking at unit cohesion by the assassination of unit leaders.
Another area in which Marine units fared consistently better than Army units was in the rates of mutiny and combat refusals. If the numbers of Marines charged under Article 94 (mutiny) and Article 94/80 (attempted mutiny) are combined for the period 1964 through 1972, the total number of offenses amounts to only 26.11
By comparison there were 245 cases of mutiny and attempted mutiny in a single division in the Army in 1970 alone. 12 The Marine combat refusal/mutiny rate then was considerably lower than that for the Army.
The lower rates of mutiny and of assassination of leaders in Marine units are very important data. They suggest that although desertion, AWOL, and drug use may have been in evidence at fairly high levels within Marine Corps units, these problems remained focused on individual soldiers and did not as a rule provoke a state-of-unit mutiny or even individual combat refusal.
Whatever provoked desertions, AWOLs, and drug use among Marines, it was seldom serious enough to provoke direct, “in combat” acts of overt disobedience or refusals to execute unit missions. Moreover, it was rarely serious enough to provoke what I feel is the ultimate act of unit discohesion, the assassination of leaders.
Intriguingly, the low rates of mutiny and fragging in Marine units as compared to…..
- Gunny G’s Old Salt Marines Tavern Weblog: The Old Gunny Sez….. (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Gunny G’s Notes On USMC Politics, History, Inter-Service Relations, etc. (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- China Marines!: Gunny G’s Legends and Myths… (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Gunny G: 11 Attempts To Disband The Marines Or Merge With The Army… (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Gunny G’s Marines History and Traditions: Capt Max “Two Gun” Shapiro, USMC…. (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- The US Army; A Failure of Leadership, Discipline, and Command and Control (earlaiman.wordpress.com)
- Gunny G’s Marines History and Traditions: Patriotic Fervor and the Truth About Iwo Jima…By Karal Ann Marling and John Wetenhal (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- THE Marine’s Marine: ‘Straight-Talkin’ Marine! (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- (Gunny G: The WW II DUCKS (DUKW) Are Alive and Well @ Stone Mountain, Georgia!) ~ CAMP MCGILL D.U.K.W.S “DUCKS (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Gunny G: Semper Fi Does Not Mean Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful) (gunnyg.wordpress.com)