The Rules of Combat

Murphy’s Rules of Combat

  • Friendly fire – isn’t.
  • Recoilless rifles – aren’t.
  • Suppressive fires – won’t.
  • You are not Superman; Marines and fighter pilots take note.
  • A sucking chest wound is Nature’s way of telling you to slow down.
  • If it’s stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid.
  • Try to look unimportant; the enemy may be low on ammo and not want to waste a bullet on you.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, call in an air strike.
  • The enemy attacks on two occasions: when he’s ready and when you’re not
  • If you are forward of your position, your artillery will fall short
  • All 5 second grenade fuses burn down in 3 seconds
  • Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.
  • When your attack is going really well, its an ambush
  • Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
  • If your attack is going really well, it’s an ambush.
  • The enemy diversion you’re ignoring is their main attack.
  • No plan ever survives initial contact.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect plan.
  • A retreating enemy is probably just falling back and regrouping.
  • The important things are always simple; the simple are always hard.
  • The easy way is always mined.
  • Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.
  • Don’t look conspicuous; it draws fire. For this reason, it is not at all uncommon for aircraft carriers to be known as bomb magnets.
  • Never draw fire; it irritates everyone around you.
  • If you are short of everything but the enemy, you are in the combat zone.
  • When you have secured the area, make sure the enemy knows it too.
  • Incoming fire has the right of way.
  • No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.
  • No inspection ready unit has ever passed combat.
  • If the enemy is within range, so are you.
  • The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
  • Things which must be shipped together as a set, aren’t.
  • Things that must work together, can’t be carried to the field that way.
  • Radios will fail as soon as you need fire support.
  • Radar tends to fail at night and in bad weather, and especially during both.
  • Anything you do can get you killed, including nothing.
  • Make it too tough for the enemy to get in, and you won’t be able to get out.
  • Tracers work both ways.
  • If you take more than your fair share of objectives, you will get more than your fair share of objectives to take.
  • When both sides are convinced they’re about to lose, they’re both right.
  • Professional soldiers are predictable; the world is full of dangerous amateurs.
  • Military Intelligence is a contradiction.
  • Fortify your front; you’ll get your rear shot up.
  • Weather ain’t neutral.
  • If you can’t remember, the Claymore is pointed towards you.
  • Air defense motto: shoot’em down; sort’em out on the ground.
  • ‘Flies high, it’ll die; low and slow, it’ll go.
  • The Cavalry doesn’t always come to the rescue.
  • Napalm is an area support weapon.
  • Mines are equal opportunity weapons.
  • B-52s are the ultimate close support weapon.
  • Sniper’s motto: reach out and touch someone.
  • The one item you need is always in short supply.
  • Interchangeable parts aren’t.
  • It’s not the one with your name on it; it’s the one addressed “to whom it may concern” you’ve got to think about.
  • When in doubt, empty your magazine.
  • The side with the simplest uniforms wins.
  • Combat will occur on the ground between two adjoining maps.
  • If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you may have misjudged the situation.
  • If two things are required to make something work, they will never be shipped together.
  • Whenever you lose contact with the enemy, look behind you.
  • The most dangerous thing in the combat zone is an officer with a map.
  • The quartermaster has only two sizes, too large and too small.
  • If you really need an officer in a hurry, take a nap.
  • There is nothing more satisfying than having someone take a shot at you, and miss.
  • If your sergeant can see you, so can the enemy.
  • You’ll only remember your hand grenades when the sound is too close to use them.
  • Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
  • Well .. It could be worse: It could be raining .. and we could be out in it. So he said, “Cheer up: it could be worse!” So we cheered up. And it got worse.
  • The spare batteries for whatever your troops have been carrying are either nearly dead or for the wrong radio.
  • The ping you heard was the antenna snapping off at 6 inches above the flex mount, while a fire mission was being called in on a battalion of hostiles who know your position.
  • Why is it the CO sticks his head in your radio hooch to see if anything has come down from DIV when you are listening to the VOA broadcasting the baseball games?
  • How come you are on one frequency when everyone else is on another?
  • Why does your 500-watt VRC-26 (real old) not make it across 200 miles while a ham with 50 watts on the same MARS frequency can be heard from Stateside?
  • Know why short RTOs have long whips on their radios? So someone can find them when they step in deep water.
  • The enemy “Always” times his attack to the second you drop your pant’s in the Latrine!!
  • The ammo you need NOW is on the NEXT airdrop!!
  • Field experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
  • If your ambush is properly set the enemy won’t walk into it.

Murphy’s Law – The Army Weather Corollaries

  • Inclement weather always begins AFTER you’ve already done PT.
  • A sudden downpour always occurs at the end of a summer field exercise–just in time coat all your equipment and camouflage with mud.
  • The best beach weather always occurs when you are in the field wearing MOPP 4.
  • There is no such thing as a blue sky during a company picnic.
  • There is no such thing as a cloudy sky when your unit needs to infiltrate enemy territory.
  • Road conditions are always red when it’s time to convoy home.
  • Motor pools are always 20 degrees warmer than the rest of the post during the summer and 50 degrees colder in the winter.
  • Army training areas exist in a constant state of weather flux controlled by a deity with a truly cruel sense of humor–How do you think we got them so cheap?
  • The peak of Mt. Everest would flood if an Army unit was told to set up on it.
  • Hell really would freeze over if someone decided to conduct an exercise there.
  • The Port-a-Potty Postulate states that the likelihood of a hurricane, sandstorm, tsunami, or blizzard occurring immediately over your location is directly related to how bad you need to get to the port-a-johns at the other side of the campsite in the middle of the night.
  • The temperature always rises to 70 degrees AFTER you put on two layers of polypros, your bear suit, and all of your Gortex.
  • If you whine about the weather, someone else will always whine louder.

Rules of the Rucksack

  • No matter how carefully you pack, a rucksack is always too small.
  • No matter how small, a rucksack is always too heavy.
  • No matter how heavy, a rucksack will never contain what you want.
  • No matter what you need, it’s always at the bottom.

Phillip’s Law

Four-wheel-drive just means getting stuck in more inaccessible places.

Weatherwax’s Postulate

The degree to which you overreact to information will be in inverse proportion to its accuracy.

Least Credible Sentences

  • The check is in the mail.
  • The trucks will be on the drop zone.
  • Of course I’ll respect you in the morning.
  • I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.

Brintnall’s Second Law

If you receive two contradictory orders, obey them both.

Pavlu’s Rules for Economy in Decision Papers

  • Refute the last established recommendation.
  • Add yours.
  • Pass the paper on.

Lackland’s Laws

  • Never be first.
  • Never be last.
  • Never volunteer for anything.

Napier’s Corollary

If all else fails hide.

Rune’s Rule

If you don’t care where you are, you ain’t lost.

Law of Supply (also known as the Law of Gifts)

You get the most of what you need the least.

Hane’s Law

There is no limit to how bad things can get.

Rules of a Gunfight

  • Avoid them like the plague
    • Be aware of what is going on around you by staying in condition yellow.
    • Have a plan or two. (If not, a “Last Will & Testament will do.)
      Corollary: No plan survives contact with the enemy.
  • Bring at least one gun (don’t bring a knife).
    • Bring the biggest gun you can handle.
    • Bring friends (as friendly witnesses or fire support).*
    • Let close air support or artillery soften-up the target for you. 😉
  • Make use of available cover.
    • Remember the difference between concealment and cover.
    • Don’t get shot (Use cover to your advantage).
  • Place your shots well.
    • Pay attention to where your shots fall.
    • “Speed’s fine, but accuracy is final.”
    • Don’t miss. (You can’t miss fast enough to win.)
  • Rules of drawing
    • If you’re the bad guy, draw & shoot first.
    • If you’re the good guy, draw second and shoot first.
  • Never turn your back on an armed bad guy, even if he’s down.
  • Rules of wounds
    • A “sucking chest wound” is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.
    • If you’re bleeding to death, say something witty.
    • If you’re actually dying, say something deep.
  • Never assume your opponent is out of ammo.
    • Bring lots of ammo.
  • In combat, you will be scared. You will have a tendency to shoot high. Be aware of this and aim low.
  • Rules of quitting
    • Don’t quit just because you’re hit; GET EVEN!
    • Never quit, period.
    • There is no prize for second place.
  • There’s no such thing as “unfair advantage.”
  • It is better to give than receive (Just like Christmas).
  • If your opponents didn’t have the courtesy to “Count Off!” before beginning, assume that there’s one more somewhere.

Rules of Urban Combat

  • When the cops pull up, think fast and move slow.
  • Say nothing afterwards but the Seven Magic Words: “I’d like to speak with my attorney.”
  • Distribute press releases indicating you target belongs to a cult.*
  • Drop the one with the shotgun first.
  • Afterward, alter evidence to favor your position and plan for perjury.*
  • Use cutesy green-and-purple colored weapons and ammo so the press won’t show any video of your non-evil-looking equipment. Fuzzy rifle-wrap works best.
  • Insist on at least $50K from tabloid TV producers.

 The Rules of Combat

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