Murphy's Law of Combat
Official US Marines Homepage

1. Friendly fire - isn't.
2. Recoilless rifles - aren't.
3. Suppressive fires - won't.
4. You are not Superman; Marines and fighter pilots take note.
5. A sucking chest wound is Nature's way of telling you to slow down.
6. If it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid.
7. Try to look unimportant; the enemy may be low on ammo and not want to waste a bullet on you.
8. If at first you don't succeed, call for artillery. When that doesn't work, for an airstrike.
9. The further you are in advance of your own positions, the more likely your artillery will fall short.
10. Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.
11. Never go to bed with anyone crazier than yourself.
12. Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
13. If your attack is going really well, it's an ambush.
14. The enemy diversion you're ignoring is their main attack.
16. "No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy."- Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard von Moltke [1990's version: No OPLAN ever survives initial contact.]
17. There is no such thing as a perfect plan.
18. Five second fuses always burn three seconds.
19. There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.
20. A retreating enemy is probably just falling back and regrouping.
21. The important things are always simple; the simple are always hard.
22. The problem with taking easy way out is that the enemy has already mined it.
23. Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.
24. Don't look conspicuous. In the combat zone, it draws fire. Out of the combat zone, it draws sergeants. [Corollary: For this reason, it is not at all uncommon for aircraft carriers to be known as bomb magnets.]
25. Never draw fire; it irritates everyone around you.
26. If you are short of everything but the enemy, you are in the combat zone.
27. When you have secured the area, make sure the enemy knows it too.
28. Incoming fire has the right of way.
29. No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.
30. No inspection ready unit has ever passed combat.
31. If the enemy is within range, so are you.
32. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
33. Things which must be shipped together as a set, aren't.
34. Things that must work together, can't be carried to the field that way.
35. Radios will fail as soon as you need fire support. (Corollary: Radar tends to fail at night and in bad weather, and especially during both.)
36. Anything you do can get you killed, including nothing.
37. Make it too tough for the enemy to get in, and you won't be able to get out.
38. Tracers work both ways.
39. If you take more than your fair share of objectives, you will get more than your fair share of objectives to take.
40. When both sides are convinced they're about to lose, they're both right.
41. Professional soldiers are predictable; the world is full of dangerous amateurs.
42. When your fear of the plane overcomes your fear of the ejection seat, its time to "punch out."
43. Military Intelligence is a contradiction.
44. Fortify your front; you'll get your rear shot up.
45. The more a weapon costs, the farther you will have to send it away to be repaired.
46. Weather ain't neutral.
47. If you can't remember, the Claymore is pointed towards you.
48. Air defense motto: shoot 'em down; sort 'em out on the ground.
49. 'Flies high, it dies; low and slow, it'll go.
50. The Cavalry doesn't always come to the rescue.
51. Napalm is an area support weapon.
52. Mines are equal opportunity weapons.
53. B-52s are the ultimate close support weapon.
54. Sniper's motto: reach out and touch someone.
55. Killing for peace is like screwing for virginity.
56. The one item you need is always in short supply.
57. Interchangeable parts aren't.
58. It's not the one [bullet] with your name on it; it's the one [bullet or shrapnel] addressed "to whom it may concern" or "occupant" that you've got to worry about.
59. When in doubt, empty your magazine.
60. The side with the simplest uniforms wins. [Corollary: The army with the smartest dress uniform will lose.]
61. Combat will occur on the ground between two adjoining maps...printed at different scales.
62. If the Platoon Sergeant can see you, so can the enemy.
63. Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never stay awake when you can sleep.
64. The most dangerous thing in the world is a Second Lieutenant with a map and a compass.
65. Exceptions prove the rule, and destroy the battle plan.
66. Everything always works in your HQ, everything always fails in the Colonel's HQ.
67. The enemy never watches until you make a mistake.
68. One enemy soldier is never enough, but two is entirely too many.
69. A clean (and dry) set of BDU's is a magnet for mud and rain.
70. The worse the weather, the more you are required to be out in it.
71. Whenever you have plenty of ammo, you never miss. Whenever you are low on ammo, you can't hit the broad side of a barn.
72. The complexity of a weapon is inversely proportional to the IQ of the weapon's operator.
73. Field experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
74. No matter which way you have to march, its always uphill.
75. If enough data is collected, a board of inquiry can prove anything.
76. For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. (in boot camp)
77. Airstrikes always overshoot the target, artillery always falls short.
78. When reviewing the radio frequencies that you just wrote down, the most important ones are always illegible.
79. Those who hesitate under fire usually do not end up KIA or WIA.
80. The tough part about being an officer is that the troops don't know what they want, but they know for certain what they don't want.
81. To steal information from a person is called plagiarism. To steal information from the enemy is called gathering intelligence.
82. The weapon that usually jams when you need it the most is the M60.
83. The perfect officer for the job will transfer in the day after that billet is filled by someone else.
84. When you have sufficient supplies & ammo, the enemy takes 2 weeks to attack. When you are low on supplies & ammo the enemy decides to attack that night.
85. The newest and least experienced soldier will usually win the Medal of Honor.
86. A Purple Heart just proves that were you smart enough to think of a plan, stupid enough to try it, and lucky enough to survive.
87. Murphy was a grunt.
88. Beer Math -- "2 beers times 37 men equals 49 cases. "
89. Body count Math -- "3 guerrillas plus 1 probable plus 2 pigs equals 37 enemies killed in action. "
90. The bursting radius of a hand grenade is always one foot greater than your jumping range. [Corollary: The effective radius of a hand grenade is greater the average grunt can throw it.]
91. All-weather close air support doesn't work in bad weather.
92. The combat worth of a unit is inversely proportional to the smartness of its outfit and appearance.
93. The crucial round is a dud.
94. Every command which can be misunderstood, will be.
95. There is no such place as a convenient foxhole.
96. Don't ever be the first, don't ever be the last and don't ever volunteer to do anything.
97. If your positions are firmly set and you are prepared to take the enemy assault on, he will bypass you.
98. If your ambush is properly set, the enemy won't walk into it.
99. If your flank march is going well, the enemy expects you to outflank him.
100. Density of fire increases proportionally to the curiousness of the target.15. The enemy invariably
101. Odd objects attract fire - never lurk behind one. [Corollary: Odd objects attract fire -- you are odd.]
102. The more stupid the leader is, the more important missions he is ordered to carry out.
103. The self-importance of a superior is inversely proportional to his position in the hierarchy (as is his deviousness and mischievousness).
104. There is always a way, and it usually doesn't work.
105. Success occurs when no one is looking, failure occurs when the General is watching.
106. The enemy never monitors your radio frequency until you broadcast on an unsecured channel.
107. Whenever you drop your equipment in a fire-fight, your ammo and grenades always fall the farthest away, and your canteen always lands at your feet.
108. As soon as you are served hot chow in the field, it rains.
109. Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.
110. The seriousness of a wound (in a fire-fight) is inversely proportional to the distance to any form of cover.
111. Walking point = sniper bait.
112. Your bivouac for the night is the spot where you got tired of marching that day.
113. If only one solution can be found for a field problem, then it is usually a stupid solution.
114. The buddy system is essential to your survival; it gives the enemy somebody else to shoot at.
115. The Quartermaster has only two sizes, too large and too small.
116. If you really need an officer in a hurry, take a nap.
117. The only time suppressive fire works is when it is used on abandoned positions.
118. There is nothing more satisfying than having someone take a shot at you, and miss.
119. All battles are fought uphill.
120. All battles are fought in the rain.
121. "Logistics is the ball and chain of armoured warfare." -- Heinz Guderian
122. What gets you promoted from one rank, gets you killed in the next rank.
123. "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow." -- General George Patton
124. If orders can be misunderstood, they have been.
125. "War is like love. To triumph, you must make contact." -- attributed to Napoleon
126. "Boldness becomes rarer, the higher the rank." -- Karl von Clausewitz
127. Never reinforce failure. Failure reinforces itself.
128. "Only 5% of an intelligence report is accurate. The trick of a good commander is to isolate the 5%." -- General Douglas MacArthur
129. When a front line soldier overhears two General Staff officers conferring, he's fallen back too far.
130. It isn't necessary to be an idiot to be a senior officer, but it sure helps.
131. "No captain can do very wrong who places his ship alongside that of the enemy."  -- Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson
132. "Only numbers can annihilate."  -- Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson
133. Always know when to get out of "Dodge". [Corollary: Always know how to get out of "Dodge".]
134. Priorities are made by officers, not God. There's a difference.
135. Always honor a threat.
136. The weight of all your equipment is proportional to the cube of the time you have been carrying it.
137. "Hell hath no fury like a non-combatant." -- Charles Edward Montague
138. Fighter pilots make movies; attack pilots make history.
139. There are two kinds of naval vessels: submarines and targets.
140. "A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost."  -- Ferdinand Foch (Principles de Guerre)
141. "Surprise is an event that takes place in the mind of a commander." -- Jerry Pournelle
142. "All warfare is based upon deception." -- Sun Tzu (The Art of War)
143. "A little caution outflanks a large cavalry." -- Otto von Bismark
144. The enemy diversion you are ignoring is the main attack.
145. Radios function perfectly until you need fire support.
146. If you take more than your fair share of objectives, you will have more than your fair share to take.
147. Parade ground inspections are to combat readiness as mess hall food is to cuisine.
148. "Snow is not neutral." -- Frunze Military Academy Maxim
149. The tank is a monument to the inaccuracy of indirect fire.
150. "Diplomacy has rarely been able to gain at the conference table what cannot be gained or held on the battlefield." -- General Walter Bedell Smith
151. "War is the unfolding of miscalculations." -- Barbara Tuchman
152. "Perfect is the enemy of good enough." -- Soviet Admiral Gorshkov
153. "He who wants to defend everything defends nothing." -- Frederick the Great
154. If they're shooting at you, its a high intensity conflict.
155. Artillery add dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.
156. Minefields are not neutral. They attack both enemies.
157. Your mortar barrage will put exactly one round on the intended target. That round will be a dud.
158. The mortar team will always have the correct number of safety pins to prove they armed all the rounds. [Corollary: To ensure this, the mortar teams always carry extra pins.]
159. More aircraft are incapacitated by a shortage of spare parts than by enemy action.
160. The enemy attacks on two occasions: 1) when they're ready, 2) when you're not.