Saturday, May 16, 2009

Murphy’s Law of Combat Operations

This post represents the beginning of a series on Leadership. I was first exposed to this brilliant piece of wisdom as a private, when I signed into A Company, 1st/325 Airborne Infantry Regiment (known throughout the 82nd Airborne as the infamous 'AlphaTraz'). There was a copy of these Murphy's Laws over the CQ Desk, decorated with a skull in a maroon beret over crossed M16's. Over the years I've seen a few different versions of this, but the core Laws remain the same - SEAN LINNANE

1. Friendly fire – isn’t.
2. Recoilless rifles – aren’t.
3. Suppressive fire – won’t.
4. You are not Superman.
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.
8. If at first you don’t succeed, call in an airstrike.
9. If you are forward of your position, 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, you’re walking into an ambush.
14. The enemy diversion you’re ignoring is their main attack.
15. The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions: A) when they’re ready, B) when you’re not ready.
16. No OPLAN ever survives initial contact.
17. There is no such thing as a perfect plan.
18. Five-second fuzes 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 easy way is always mined.
23. Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.
24. 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.
25. Never draw fire; it irritates everyone around you.
26. If you are short of everything but enemy, you are in the combat zone.
27. When you have secured the area, make sure to inform the enemy.
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.
36. Radar tends to fail at night and in bad weather, and especially during both.
37. Anything you do can get you killed, including nothing.
38. Make it too tough for the enemy to get in, and you won’t be able to get out.
39. Tracers work both ways.
40. If you take more than your fair share of objectives, you will get more than your fair share of objectives to take.
41. When both sides are convinced they’re about to lose, they’re both right.
42. Professional soldiers are predictable, but the world is full of dangerous amateurs.
43. Military Intelligence is a contradiction of terms.
44. Fortify your front; you’ll get your rear shot up.
45. Weather ain’t neutral.
46. If you can’t remember, the Claymore is pointed towards you.
47. Air defense motto: shoot ‘em down; sort ‘em out on the ground.
48. Flies high, it dies; low and slow, it’ll go.
49. The Cavalry doesn’t always come to the rescue.
50. Napalm is an area support weapon.
51. Mines are equal opportunity weapons.
52. B-52s are the ultimate close support weapon.
53. Sniper’s motto: reach out and touch someone.
54. Killing for peace is like screwing for virginity.
55. The one item you need is always in short supply.
56. Interchangeable parts aren’t.
57. 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.
58. When in doubt, empty your magazine.
59. The side with the simplest uniforms wins.
60. Combat will occur on the ground between two adjoining maps.
61. If the Platoon Sergeant can see you, so can the enemy.
62. Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never stay awake when you can sleep.
63. The most dangerous thing in the world is a Second Lieutenant with a map and a compass.
64. Exceptions prove the rule, and destroy the battle plan.
65. Everything always works in your HQ, everything always fails in the Colonel’s HQ.
66. The enemy never watches until you make a mistake.
67. One enemy soldier is never enough, but two is entirely too many.
68. A clean (and dry) set of BDU’s is a magnet for mud and rain.
69. The worse the weather, the more you are required to be out in it.
70. 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.
71. The more a weapon costs, the farther you will have to send it away to be repaired.
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, it’s 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. The tough part about being in charge is that the troops don’t know what they want, but they know for certain what they don’t want.

1 comment:

  1. Now knowing the real "Sean Linnane" i would say murphy's laws should be amended and rewritten for application in my life to include the deletion of law four. good work there old grasshopper