In researching for stories, you tend to come up with factual titbits that probably deserve a story of their own. This is one such fact.
I’ve always wondered about soldiers. They go out and kill strangers who they might not have any reason to dislike apart from the fact that they are trying to kill them back.
Therefore, given that killing is a soldiers job and after a certain point, a soldier might even become complacent and casual about it, then why wouldn’t a soldier kill someone who he really had a good reason to dislike.
I’m reminded of fragging incidents, where the common soldiers murder their superior officers because they lack confidence in their leadership, or because the officer teats the men badly or takes risks with their lives to boost his own advancement.
The usual method of dispatch in Vietnam was the fragmentation grenade, I think towards the end of the war incidents like this had escalated to such an extent that continuing to fight that war was impossible. The peace movement was one thing but this actually sabotaged the army’s ability to wage war.
I think the actual extent of this is covered up by the US military even now.
A Vietnam veteran I spoke to on another forum gave me his personal account of a fragging incident:
“When I first got to Viet Nam ( A newbie) I woke to an explosion just 4 tents down from where I was sleeping. I thought it was a mortar attack, turns out this prick captain had a claymore strapped to the top of his tent that sent him back home in a bag. Reason: got a lot of guys killed from being a dumb ass and treated people like shit. It happened. He wasn't missed...smiles.”
They used a grenade because the calibre of the American weapon is a 5.56 and the AK47 is a 7.76, thus an autopsy would reveal that his men shot him. Where it is impossible to determine with a fragg grenade, at least at that point in time.
I found some statistics, they mostly relate to the Vietnam War and a little to the Gulf War, but I haven’t found any relevant stats of the Afghan War thus far.
The most reliable figure for Vietnam was 730 suspected incidents from 1969 through 1971, much higher than in U.S. wars before or since.
Before Vietnam, assaults against U.S. military officers were extremely rare.
World War I saw one incident leading to court martial per 12,700 servicemen. A ratio said to have remained steady up until the Vietnam War.
During the Vietnam War, the Fragging rate rose from one incident per 3,300 servicemen in 1969 to a peak of one per 572 servicemen in 1971.
In one division in Vietnam -- fragging during 1971 have been authoritatively estimated to be running about one a week.
Often, the word of the deaths of these officers would bring cheers at troop movies or in bivouacs of certain units.
Few Vietnam Fragging cases ever went to trial, so a comparison with earlier wars is risky. Still, these are astonishing statistics, suggesting an army at the point of degenerating into a mutinous rabble. You would think in the wake of Vietnam the U.S. military would have closely investigated fragging to avoid another brush with chaos.
It has been esteemed that suspect incidents like those in the Vietnam War had doubled at the height of the Second Gulf War; the Gulf War was Vietnam on Meth!
The Art of War by Sun Tzu, attributes the highest importance to the notion of “The Moral Law," soldiers will not readily risk their lives over an extended period for a cause they do not believe in.
When the only aim of the soldier is to survive his tour of duty, gun-ho, reckless and incompetent officers become a much greater threat to their lives than enemy combatants do.
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