Fragging is a term from the Vietnam War, used primarily by U.S. military personnel, most commonly meaning to assassinate an unpopular officer of one's own fighting unit, often by means of a fragmentation grenade (hence the term).


A hand grenade was often used because it would not leave any fingerprints, and because a ballistics test could not be done (as it could to match a bullet with a firearm). The grenade would often be thrown into the officer's tent while he slept.

Sometimes the intended victim would be 'warned' by first having a smoke grenade thrown into his tent. If he persisted in antagonizing his men, this would be followed by a stun grenade, and finally by a fragmentation grenade.

A fragging victim could also be killed by intentional friendly fire during combat. In this case, the death would be blamed on the enemy, and, due to the dead man's unpopularity, the perpetrator could assume that no one would contradict the story.


Fragging most often involved the murder of a commanding officer (C.O.) or a senior noncommissioned officer perceived as unpopular, harsh, inept, or overzealous. Many soldiers were not overly keen to go into harm's way, and preferred leaders with a similar sense of self-preservation. If a C.O. was incompetent, fragging the officer was considered a means to the end of self preservation for the men serving under him. Fragging might also occur if a commander freely took on dangerous or suicidal missions, especially if he was deemed to be seeking glory for himself.

The very idea of fragging served to warn junior officers to avoid the ire of their enlisted men through recklessness, cowardice, or lack of leadership. Junior officers in turn could arrange the murder of senior officers when finding them incompetent or wasting their men's lives needlessly. Underground GI newspapers sometimes listed bounties offered by units for the fragging of unpopular commanding officers.

During the Vietnam War, fragging was reportedly common. There are documented cases of at least 230 American officers killed by their own troops, and as many as 1,400 other officers' deaths could not be explained. Incidents of fragging have been recorded as far back as the 18th Century Battle of Blenheim.

Notable incidents

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