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

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During its long withdrawal from South Vietnam, the U.S. military experienced a serious crisis in morale. Chronic indiscipline, illegal drug use, and racial militancy all contributed to trouble within the ranks. But most chilling of all was the advent of a new phenomenon: large numbers of young enlisted men turning their weapons on their superiors. The practice was known as fragging, a reference to the fragmentation hand grenades often used in these assaults. Between 1968 and 1973, dozens of Americans and Vietnamese were murdered in fragging incidents, but only a handful of their killers were ever brought to justice. Drawing upon more than 500 cases from official records in addition to interviews with both perpetrators and victims, George Lepre examines these episodes in close detail. A comparative analysis of fragging in American units and the Australian army in Vietnam is also included. In the first in-depth study of this vexing trend, Lepre drills down to the core of the soldier s mindset, bringing to light a little understood aspect of military experience.