Murphy's Laws of Combat Operations
- 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 airstrike.
- If you are forward of your position, your artillery will fall short.
- Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.
- Never go to bed with anyone crazier than yourself.
- 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.
- The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions:
- when they're ready.
- when you're not.
- No OPLAN ever survives initial contact.
- There is no such thing as a perfect plan.
- Five second fuzes always burn three seconds.
- There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.
- 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
- 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
- Things which must be shipped together as a set, aren't.
- Things that must work together, can't be carried to the field that
- Radios will fail as soon as you need fire support.
- Radar tends to fail at night and in bad weather, and especially during
- 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
- 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
- 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 dies; 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.
- Killing for peace is like screwing for virginity.
- 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 the Platoon Sergeant can see you, so can the enemy.
- Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never
stay awake when you can sleep.
- The most dangerous thing in the world is a Second Lieutenant with a
map and a compass.
- Exceptions prove the rule, and destroy the battle plan.
- Everything always works in your HQ, everything always fails in the
- The enemy never watches until you make a mistake.
- One enemy soldier is never enough, but two is entirely too many.
- A clean (and dry) set of BDU's is a magnet for mud and rain.
- The worse the weather, the more you are required to be out in it.
- 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.
- The more a weapon costs, the farther you will have to send it away
to be repaired.
- The complexity of a weapon is inversely proportional to the IQ of the
- Field experience is something you don't get until just after you need
- No matter which way you have to march, its always uphill.
- If enough data is collected, a board of inquiry can prove anything.
- For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. (in boot
- Airstrikes always overshoot the target, artillery always falls short.
- When reviewing the radio frequencies that you just wrote down, the
most important ones are always illegible.
- Those who hesitate under fire usually do not end up KIA or WIA.
- 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.
- To steal information from a person is called plagiarism. To steal information
from the enemy is called gathering intelligence.
- The weapon that usually jams when you need it the most is the M60.
- The perfect officer for the job will transfer in the day after that
billet is filled by someone else.
- 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.
- The newest and least experienced soldier will usually win the Medal
- 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.
- Murphy was a grunt.
- Beer Math --> 2 beers times 37 men equals 49 cases.
- Body count Math --> 3 guerrillas plus 1 probable plus 2 pigs equals
37 enemies killed in action.
- The bursting radius of a hand grenade is always one foot greater than
your jumping range.
- All-weather close air support doesn't work in bad weather.
- The combat worth of a unit is inversely proportional to the smartness
of its outfit and appearance.
- The crucial round is a dud.
- Every command which can be misunderstood, will be.
- There is no such place as a convenient foxhole.
- Don't ever be the first, don't ever be the last and don't ever volunteer
to do anything.
- If your positions are firmly set and you are prepared to take the enemy
assault on, he will bypass you.
- If your ambush is properly set, the enemy won't walk into it.
- If your flank march is going well, the enemy expects you to outflank
- Density of fire increases proportionally to the curiousness of the
- Odd objects attract fire - never lurk behind one.
- The more stupid the leader is, the more important missions he is ordered
to carry out.
- The self-importance of a superior is inversely proportional to his
position in the hierarchy (as is his deviousness and mischievousness).
- There is always a way, and it usually doesn't work.
- Success occurs when no one is looking, failure occurs when the General
- The enemy never monitors your radio frequency until you broadcast on
an unsecured channel.
- 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.
- As soon as you are served hot chow in the field, it rains.
- Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.
- The seriousness of a wound (in a fire-fight) is inversely proportional
to the distance to any form of cover.
- Walking point = sniper bait.
- Your bivouac for the night is the spot where you got tired of marching
- If only one solution can be found for a field problem, then it is usually
a stupid solution.
- All or any of the above combined.
© 1995 by Richard L. Pieri