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Murphy's Laws of Combat

or All's Unfair In Warfare


Murphy's First Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
You are not an invincible superman!
Anything you do on the battlefield can get you killed, including doing nothing.
The only sin in combat is indecision.
Don't be first, don't be last, and don't ever volunteer for anything!
If it's stupid, but works, then it ain't stupid!
Don't look or act conspicuous ... it draws fire. That's why officers are called "metal magnets"!
Never draw fire, because it really irritates everyone around you.
If you can see, then you can be seen; and if you can be seen, then you can be hit; and if you can be hit, then you can be killed.
Try to look unimportant, because the enemy may be low on ammo.
Teamwork is essential, because it gives the enemy someone else to aim at for a change!
Never share your foxhole with anyone braver or dumber than yourself!
No man is ever a hero to those who must serve him.
An officer is a gentleman by an Act of Congress, but charm is not a worthwhile trait in combat.
A good man is hard to find, but easy to lose!
Anytime troops are required to remain still and silent, they will develop unexpected twitches and uncontrollable itches.
Evading, shirking, malingering, and postponing are developmental art forms unappreciated by military specialists.
If it hasn't been double-checked, then it was probably never checked, and was most certainly forgotten altogether.
The first time the leader forgets to remind his troops will also be the first time the troops forget to do what's expected.
Every stupid order is nonetheless an order; and every illegal order is nonetheless illegal.
Every stupid regulation that can be checked must be enforced.
Not every stupid rule is pointless.
If the exception proves the rule, then don't get caught breaking the rules!
The "rules of engagement" are only man-made, but the laws of their effect were made by nature.
Nobody ever wants to see the unspectacular parts of war ... dirty and boring, tedious and unproductive ... but war is mostly just an ugly routine. War is intentional, but death is random, and results are unpredictable.
Just as there's no typical soldier, there is no average day in combat.
Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for!
Wanting to slowly introduce an FNG into a controlled combat situation is like inviting a virgin to bust her cherry at a gang-bang rape!
If combat actions don't elongate subjectively by several times normal, then they weren't very significant.
There's absolutely no substitute for a total lack of preparation.
If you're short of everything except 'the enemy', then you're truly in a combat zone!
Never forget that your weapons were made by the contractor with the lowest bid!
All grenade fuses, which are reliable in training, accelerate in actual combat.
Malfunctions can never be simulated if genuine repair or corrective intervention is readily available.
The revised and improved replacement gear or weapons are always inferior to what they are supposed to replace.
The side with the most durable and effective weapons will win.
War uses things up and wears them out; so it doesn't matter how good something is if there isn't enough of it to win.
Weapons don't win (or lose) wars ... people do!
The simpler something is, then the easier it is to use; the easier to use, the more uses will be found for it.
Things that must be together to work are usually sent separately.
Sets, replacements, spares, and essential parts are never collocated.
Extras, spares, and replacements are never needed, until they're unavailable.
Whatever resupply is available is either incompatible or obsolete.
Sometimes too much of something is just barely enough.
Ammo and medicine are so important that they're used sparingly. Food and gear are so useful that they're important. Mail from home, which is neither useful nor important, has the highest priority of all.
Regardless of unit size, the existing supply system will not be able to support its uninterrupted operations.
Quartermasters only stock items that are too large or too small.
Every potential or alternative solution changes the situation.
As every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so every side-effect is both an effect and a cause.
There is never enough time to "do it right" ... which is why it must be done over, and over, and over again.
There's no such thing as a shortcut! ... it's just a myth to boost morale, like hot chow and cold beer, dry socks and clean clothes, warm showers and soft beds.
Choices and options require time ... so if there is no time, then there are no alternatives.
Most of your theoretical alternatives and speculative choices are not viable options.
If there is only one option, then it is always the right decision.
Procedural precedence requires that before anything can be done, something else must be done first!
Accidents cannot be replicated or prevented; and operational recovery is inversely proportional to the accident's durable effect and distribution.
Mistakes and failures are most obvious when preliminary expectations are exaggerated by predictive announcements.
An "expert" is someone who's learned from his mistakes, converted his defects, and has yet to be devastated by his fallacies and contradictions!
Indecision is the key to inflexibility and lost options.
If you've prepared several alternative contingencies, the enemy will compromise or cancel all but one ... and you'll pay a high-price to discover which one is left.
Nothing lingers in a soldier's mind longer than a bad idea ... and the worst is that rationalized for not having come to fruition.
Bad situations don't need any help to get worse.
If your attack is going really well, then it's an ambush!
An attack avoided or an ambush averted is only awaiting a better opportunity for disaster!
Difficulties occur when they're least expected, so they occur when everyone is least prepared for them.
The enemy invariably attacks when or where you're not ready for them.
The enemy invariably attacks in ways that nullify your preparations.
The enemy diversion you're ignoring is the main assault.
The major problem with an unknown enemy is identification.
When assaulted from the front by the enemy, assailed from the rear by supporters, and sniped on the flanks by sympathizers, the first thing to do is consolidate.
Never underestimate the enemy; so work on being twice as good.
The most likely place to encounter the enemy is the least likely place to expect him!
The more comfortable you become with your duties and familiar with a specific operational area, then the more likely you are to make stupid mistakes.
The value of the information a "dog-and-pony show" presents is inversely proportional to the productive effort incurred.
In any complete list, thorough report, or exact analysis, it will eventually be discovered that the most important item has been omitted.
Just as politics exists to teach geography, so combat exists to teach topography.
The most obvious or direct route between any two points invariably proves to be the longest or hardest way.
The easy way is always mined and booby-trapped.
Booby-traps and mines are equal opportunity munitions.
Flawless plans for critical assignments will develop unexpected problems in transition, and become unworkable in execution.
No operations plan ever survives intact after the initial enemy contact.
Hesitation is not a mode or tactic ... it's a death sentence.
The mission was not properly planned if it develops into a fair fight.
A plan is just a bunch of ideas that have been arranged, one after another, so that they follow in a sequence.
Being smart enough to think of a plan, stupid enough to try it, and lucky enough to survive isn't a warrant, testament, or recommendation of achievement.
Every day that a soldier survives in combat is another chance for him to learn how to survive another day in combat.
Happiness is a contrapositive of responsibility, and is inversely proportional to one's position in the chain-of-command.
Lead by example ... don't talk about it, just do it!
Only good reports need confirmation.
It takes longer to encode, decrypt, interpret, and analyze the message than it takes the enemy to relocate.
Whenever headquarters sends an encoded message to the field, the secret signals book cannot be found; and whenever the message is sent in clear text, the enemy just happens to have a linguist monitoring that exact frequency at the crucial moment.
Radios usually develop weak batteries or malfunctions whenever you desperately need to call for fire-support.
If command-and-control can't locate you, then you're "unconventionally redistributed"; but if the enemy finds you, and fire-support can't fix you, then you're truly lost!
If you don't know your exact location, then the enemy probably does.
If you're forward of your plotted position, then the supporting artillery will always fall short.
Close only counts in horseshoes, grenades, mortars, and nukes.
If the enemy is in range, then so are you!
Incoming fire has the right-of-way.
The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
So-called "friendly fire" ... isn't!
Automatic weapons ... aren't!
Recoilless rifles ... aren't!
Suppressive fire ... won't!
Reconnaissance by fire ... doesn't!
Whenever in doubt ... fire at will!
Tracers work both ways!
The item you left in basecamp to lighten your pack-load will be needed tonight.
Whatever you don't check, and hasn't been double-checked by someone else, is probably incomplete, defective, missing, or set wrong.
Due to creative rearrangement and personal innovation, the item you want will always be in the last place you search ... if you live long enough to find it.
There's a place for everything, but don't expect everything to be in its place.
If you're not too enervated to dig a 'cat-hole', then you're constipated; and if you're too exhausted to find the latrine, then you've got 'the trots'!
Once you have secured and pacified an area, don't forget to tell the enemy.
Field body-count mathematics: two armed guerrillas plus one probable regular and three blood-trails plus two dead pigs and a water-buffalo equals half the unit's beer ration in "enemy KIAs".
Headquarters body-count mathematics: double the field body-count equals a decoration or a promotion.
Boondocks beer ration mathematics: two beers for each unit member equals half of the rear-area supply!
Systematic progress is always geometric, and body-count is always exponential, but beer-count remains arithmetic ... sophisticated analysts with their fancy computational slide- rules are being wasted on the wrong problems!
Planning and preparing for the worst situation doesn't mean that it won't still happen anyway!
Whatever happens was supposed to happen.
For the uninitiated, any high-tech solutions or strategic successes are indistinguishable from magic! ... and experience is considered mystical by the uninformed.
The malfunction rate of technological devices is directly proportional to their level of sophistication ... the more complicated generates a greater potential for defects.
The logical possibilities may be acceptable, but the reasonable odds are always against survival or success. You bet your life on a marginal chance, and your fortune is often surprisingly good.
Every operation that offers a potential advantage also offers a potential risk.
Combat is much too dangerous and important to risk by experimentation; but it's the only place that experiments will significantly succeed.
If you can't remember, then the claymore is facing the wrong way.
If you can't remember, then the safety device is still engaged.
There is no situation, circumstance, or condition that cannot be resolved, remedied, or rectified by the proper application of a sufficiently sized, shaped, and placed charge of high explosive that's detonated in a timely manner.
It's impossible to use too much ordnance to kill the enemy.
It's impossible to use too much explosive to demolish the objective.
It's impossible to determine victory if the battlefield has been annihilated.
Nothing is ever as easy as it looks.
Yesterday is always easier than tomorrow.
The easier it is to get into trouble, then the harder it will be to get back out!
If your perimeter is fortified enough to keep the enemy outside, then it will also keep you inside!
If you're dug-in, then it's more difficult for you to be dug-out.
Some of the things that seem to be very difficult are, in fact, impossible ... but you won't know which ones until you try.
In problem solving, knowing the answer is always an aid, but isn't always the best solution! ... particularly if you don't know the mechanics of how to resolve it.
Problems never come singly ... but remedies always do.
There is always a way ... because there's always a will.
The only easy day was yesterday.
Being first or last increases risk and reduces survivability.
No one ever grew old and successful by under-estimating the enemy, or by over-estimating his cohorts and allies.
Friends may come and comrades may go, but enemies will accumulate forever.
Keep your friends near, and keep your enemies closer.
The leader who can smile when things go wrong has already thought of someone to blame.
Prudence in a combat leader is like coyness in a harlot.
The word root of command isn't man (comMANd), but rather is comma (COMMAnd).
The best leader may not have the appropriate rank ... but follow him anyway!
The person with the highest rank is generally not the best leader.
The rank hierarchy exists to protect incompetence and reinforce loyalty.
To err is human, but to forgive is a commander's prerogative.
It is easier to beg pardon than to seek permission.
Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.
Crises are never fairly or consistently distributed.
A day without a crisis or conflict is incomplete.
Plans made in calm assessment do not work in crisis.
A temporary assignment can be the longest tour of any service.
Pain can make every minute of every hour of every day seem endless.
The further you are from your last encounter, the nearer you are to your next engagement.
If you take more than your fair share of objectives, then you'll have more than your fair share of objectives to take.
Combat takes from each soldier according to his ability, and gives to each according to his situation.
If you're good, then you'll get assigned more work; but if you're really good, then you'll get out of doing it.
If both sides believe they're about to lose, then they're both right, and neither one knows it.
Never interrupt the enemy when they're in the middle of making a major mistake.
The side that continues fighting without food, ammo, medicine, or replacements will eventually win.
They wouldn't call it "wasted" if getting killed in combat weren't so futile and stupid!
No good deed ever goes unpunished.
Friendly is not a military skill-set that's worthwhile in combat.
Courtesy is a necessary component of respect when cooperatively accomplishing the mission ... but it's not a decisive factor on the battlefield!
By the time they've taught us everything we need to know to stay alive, we'll either be too old to accomplish the mission, or the war will be over!
Strategy is always theoretical, and tactics are empirical; because the improvements and revisions that enable victory are always taught by the enemy on the battlefield.
Professional soldiers are predictable, but the world is full of ambitious amateurs.
Training is just like combat without blood; and war is just like training without sweat!
Nobody ever drown in sweat!
Armies need to go to war every so often just so they'll understand what all the absurd training has been for, so they can reorganize their priorities again, and so they'll remember that they exist for more than drill and ceremonies.
No combat-ready unit has ever passed a white-glove inspection! ... and no spit-and-polish unit has ever "passed" combat.
The army with the simplest uniform always wins the war.
The more colorful and numerous the medals, then the less important the war.
Pain is only temporary; but pride is forever.
Invest pride in the uniform, but invest confidence in the soldier.
If you don't sweat the small stuff, then the big stuff will take care of itself ... but it's all small stuff.
The important things are always simple; and the simple things are always hard!
Simple problems may be corrected in the military provided that the solution is complex ... simple solutions to complex problems are not tolerated.
Nations conceal their moral bankruptcy behind a facade of impervious patriotism, just as the aristocracy hides its poverty; but servants know about secret economies, just as soldiers know about deceptions.
An infantryman is something like a watchdog: he's too unmannerly to be allowed inside the house that he guards to meet the guests and too bumptious to play with the children, so whenever there's a party with good food and small talk, he's locked in the garage and ordered not to bark; but later, when a burglar comes to wreck and steal, the owner is glad to have this rude beast defend his family.
Murphy's comment on Alexander's solution for the Ghiordian Knot: never cut what can be untied in time ... unless the tangle is a messy result, instead of a puzzled cause.
Tradition is the religion of the military, and history is its Bible.
If something cannot continue, then it will eventually stop.
Superior thinking has always overcome superior force.
Murphy's Last Law: if something doesn't eventually go wrong, then it will ultimately be discovered that something should have been done otherwise, or done differently.
Murphy is a grunt! ... but he never takes R&R.
When all is said and done, alot more has been said than done.






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