Video: Inside the fragging incident
updated 6/17/2005 3:40:02 PM ET 2005-06-17T19:40:02

For the first time since Vietnam, the term "fragging" is in the news with military officials currently investigating whether revenge was a factor in the murder of two National Guard officers in Iraq

Sgt. Alberto Martinez of the New York National Guard is accused of killing his two superior officers after reportedly being disciplined by one of them and is believed to be the first soldier in Iraq to face such charges.

MSNBC military analyst and retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs joined MSNBC's Amy Robach on Friday to discuss the charges and whether there is a danger of fragging becoming a growing trend.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video of the interview, click on the link above.

Amy Robach: There have been differing reports on how Martinez allegedly killed these two officers. First reports were that it was a grenade, now it might have been mines. What are your sources telling you?

Jack Jacobs: Well, people I talked to said it was a claymore mine that actually killed these two officers and it was set up on the windowsill of their quarters which is one of the palaces among the 58 or so palaces in this enormous compound in Tikrit which the 42nd Division is using for its headquarters.

It was command detonated. The claymore mine ... is used principally in defensive positions. It's got a pound or so of plastic explosives and embedded in that, a .33 caliber piece of buck shot and this was command detonated and killed both of those officers, commanders of Headquarters Companies; Esposito and the executive officer who was only in the country for four days.

Robach: Initially, investigators believed that the two men died from indirect fire but they were able to determine 'no they didn't believe that happened.' What was it about the evidence that made them change their minds. Was it an easy thing to spot?

Jacobs: Yes, it was relatively easy. Apparently, what I understand the perpetrator tried to cover it up by making it look like a mortar attack by throwing a few hand grenades after he had detonated this claymore mine. But when other people came to the quarters where the claymore had been detonated and officers killed, they could tell immediately by the blast pattern, by the type of shrapnel that was embedded all over the place. They could tell that it was a claymore mine and that it was command detonated.

I found out later on that the handheld generator, which is used to detonate the claymore, had been thrown in a nearby lake. The lake was drained and the detonator found

Robach: Colonel, we were talking and this is incredibly unusual for something like this to happen. What do we know about Sgt. Martinez and the type of impact this will most likely have on his unit?

Jacobs: I don't know much about him. He was a staff sergeant in Headquarters Company and he was a supply specialist which would indicate that he is the supply sergeant so he worked directly with the commander and the deputy commander, executive officers, both of whom were killed.

I mean obviously something like this will have an effect on people who knew these officers, both of whom were being described as absolutely swell people. They were not very difficult people to deal with and so this was an isolated incident. It's not like it was in Vietnam, towards the end of the war, where gross morale problems contributed to an epidemic in fragging.

This seems to be an isolated incident that was the result of some sort of discipline problem.  But evidently, that occurred because it seemed that the company commander gave non-judicial punishment or reprimanded Sgt. Martinez.

MSNBC Live with Amy Robach and Randy Meier can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m.-noon.

© 2013 Reprints


Discussion comments