Fragging: Why U.S. Soldiers Assaulted Their Officers in Vietnam

Author:Fred L. Borch III
Position:Regimental Historian and Archivist for the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps
Pages:307-312
 
FREE EXCERPT
2011] BOOK REVIEWS 307
FRAGGING: WHY U.S. SOLDIERS ASSAULTED THEIR
OFFICERS IN VIETNAM1
REVIEWED BY FRED L. BORCH III*
This is an important book for judge advocates, because it is the first
in-depth and comprehensive study of the crime of “fragging” during the
Vietnam War. It also is important because it shatters the myth that the
killing or maiming of Army and Marine Corps officers and non-
commissioned officers (NCOs) with fragmentary grenades or other
weapons occurred mostly on the battlefield. Finally, the book is
important because it disproves the claim by Vietnam anti-war activists
and various academics that anti-war ideology and political antipathy to
the United States presence in Southeast Asia played a direct role in the
fragging of officers and NCOs.
As author George Lepre acknowledges at the outset, soldiers have
tried to “frag”—kill or harm—“unpopular comrades since the earliest
days of armed conflict.”2 It was during the war in Vietnam, however, that
such incidents became sufficiently prevalent to cause the Army and
Marine Corps to take institutional steps to stop it. Starting in 1970,
prominent U.S. news media sources like the New York Times and
Newsweek began reporting that “fraggings”—a slang word used in both
the Army and Marine Corps—were no longer isolated instances, but
instead “were averaging about twenty per month.”3 More importantly,
some journalists and anti-war activists suggested that these fraggings
were proof that the U.S. Armed Forces was disintegrating. Finally, when
respected politicians like Montana Senators Mike Mansfield and Lee
* Mr. Borch is the Regimental Historian and Archivist for the U.S. Army Judge Advocate
General’s Corps. He graduated from Davidson College (A.B., 1976); Univ. of North
Carolina (J.D., 1979), and University of Brussels, Belgium (LL.M, magna cum laude,
International and Comparative Law, 1980). Mr. Borch also has advanced degrees in
Military Law (LL.M., The Judge Advocate General's School, 1988), National Security
Studies (M.A., highest distinction, Naval War College, 2001), and History (M.A., Univ.
of Virginia, 2007).
Fred Borch is the author of a number of books and articles on legal and non-legal topics,
including Judge Advocates in Combat: Army Lawyers in Military Operations from
Vietnam to Haiti (2001), Judge Advocates in Vietnam: Army Lawyers in Southeast Asia
(2004), Geneva Conventions (2010) (with Gary D. Solis) and For Military Merit:
Recipients of the Purple Heart (2010).
1 GEORGE LEPRE, WHY U.S. SOLDIERS ASSAULTED THEIR OFFICERS IN VIETNAM (2011).
2 Id. at 1.
3 Id. at 48.

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP