The Return of Fragging

The deaths of Captain Phillip T. Esposito and Lieutenant Louis E. Allen, on Tuesday, near Tikrit, may be the definitive argument in favor of the view that this war is another Vietnam or worse. A report by CNN, just out, notes “the U.S. Army disclosed that it is conducting a ‘criminal investigation’ into [their} deaths.” Here’s what happened:

“‘The initial investigation by responders and military police indicated that a mortar round struck the window on the side of the building where Esposito and Allen were located at the time,’ a military statement said.

“‘Upon further examination of the scene by explosive ordnance personnel, it was determined the blast pattern was inconsistent with a mortar attack,’ the document states.

“The Army is looking at a number of scenarios, including accidental death, attack by an intruder or infiltrator — and fragging, which is the killing or wounding of a fellow soldier.”

There was a lot of this going on during the Vietnam war, as the historian Terry Anderson, of Texas A & M University, points out:

“During the years of 1969 down to 1973, we have the rise of fragging — that is, shooting or hand-grenading your NCO or your officer who orders you out into the field. The US Army itself does not know exactly how many…officers were murdered. But they know at least 600 were murdered, and then they have another 1400 that died mysteriously. Consequently by early 1970, the army [was] at war not with the enemy but with itself.”

A nation at war with itself — who will win that one?

Also see: Two G.I. deaths probed as crime