Military Wisdom


A good battle plan that you act on today can be better than a perfect one tomorrow.
– Gen George S. Patton

• 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.

• A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what’s left of your unit.
– the Army’s magazine of preventive maintenance.

• Ah, these diplomats! What chatterboxes! There’s only one way to shut them up – cut them down with machine guns. Bulganin, go and get me one!
– Joseph Stalin – As reported by De Gaulle during a long meeting.

• Aim towards the Enemy.
– Instruction printed on US Rocket Launcher

• Any ship can be a minesweeper … once.
– Admiral Hornblower

• Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.
– David Hackworth

• Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs always hit the ground.
– US Air Force

• Coffee tastes better if the latrines are dug downstream from an encampment.
– US Army Field Regulations, 1861

• Combat will occur on the ground between two adjoining maps.

• Confusion in battle is what pain is in childbirth – the natural order of things.
– General Maurice Tugwell

• Don’t draw fire; it irritates the people around you.
– Your Buddies

• Don’t ever be the first, don’t ever be the last, and don’t ever volunteer to do anything.
– US Navy Swabbie

• Don’t look conspicuous; it draws fire.

• Don’t never volunteer for nothing.
– a Soldier’s Mother

• Everyone wants peace – and they will fight the most terrible war to get it.
– Miles Kington, on BBC Radio, 4th February 1995

• Five-second fuses only last three seconds.
– Infantry Journal

• Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.
– John G. Riefenbaker

• Friendly fire – isn’t.

• Having lost sight of our objectives we need to redouble our efforts.
– Anon

• Hey, you’re going to hurt someone if you keep doing that!!!
– Harry Seacomb upon coming under German fire whilst in the desert relieving himself against a cactus; he described it as ‘the moment the war got personal’.

• His army incomparably holds, after long years, the abiding love of its surviving veterans. Who marched with it, fought with it, took part in its victories and defeats, shared its sufferings and joys; shall [never] be deaf when its deeds are sung, [nor] mute when rung out its plaudits!
– Brig. Gen. G Moxley Sorrell, “Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer”, 1905

• I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
– Dwight D Eisenhower

• I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

• If God had meant for us to be in the Army, we would have been born with green, baggy skin.

• If it’s stupid but works, it isn’t stupid.

• If the enemy is in range, so are you.
– Infantry Journal

• If you can’t remember, the Claymore is pointed towards you.

• If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.
– David Hackworth

• If your attack is going too well, you have walked into an ambush.
– Infantry Journal

• Incoming fire has the right of way.

• It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.
– US Air Force Manual

• It makes no difference which side the general is on.
– unknown British Soldier

• Look at an infantryman’s eyes and you can tell how much war he has seen.
– Bill Mauldin, “Up Front”, 1944.

• Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

• Make it too tough for the enemy to get in and you can’t get out.

• Mines are equal opportunity weapons.
– Saddam Hussein

• Never share a fox hole with anyone braver than you.

• Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.
– unknown Marine Recruit

• Never trust a private with a loaded weapon, or an officer with a map.

• No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.
– Joe Gay

• Nothing is so good for the morale of the troops as occasionally to see a dead general.
– Field Marshal Slim

• Odd objects attract fire – never lurk behind one.

• One might as well try to charge through a wall.
– Napoleon, on St Helena, regarding the British Infantry

• One of the best ways to keep peace is to be prepared for war.
– General George Washington

• Only the dead will know the end of the war.
– Plato

• Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight. But Roaring Bill, who killed him, thought it right.
– Hilaire Belloc

• Peace: In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.
– The Devils Dictionary 1911

• Push to test … Release to detonate.

• Sometimes I think war is God’s way of teaching us geography.
– Paul Rodriguez

• Take short views, hope for the best and trust in God.
– Sir Sydney Smith

• Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy someone else to shoot at.

• Daily beatings will continue until morale improves.
– attributed to the Commander of the Japanese Submarine Force.

• The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little while longer.
– U.S. Navy Seabees

• The easiest and quickest path into the esteem of traditional military authorities is by the appeal to the eye, rather than to the mind. The `polish and pipeclay’ school is not yet extinct, and it is easier for the mediocre intelligence to become an authority on buttons, than on tactics.
– Captain Sir Basil Liddel Hart, in Thoughts on War, 1944

• The easy way is always mined.

• The graveyards are full of indispensable men.
– Charles De Gaulle

• The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.
– G K Chesterton

• The military value of a partisan’s work is not measured by the amount of property destroyed, or the number of men killed or captured, but by the number [of the enemy which] he keeps watching [him].
John Singleton Mosby, 1833-1916, Confederate Cavalry Leader

• The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.

• The number of medals on an officer’s breast varies in inverse proportion to the square of the distance of his duty from the front line.
– Charles Montague, 1867-1928

• The side with the simplest uniforms wins.

• There is no beating these troops in spite of their generals. I always thought them bad soldiers, now I am sure of it. I turned their right, pierced their centre, broke them everywhere; the day was mine, and yet they did not know it and would not run.
– Marshal Soult, Albuhera 1811

• There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.

• There’s no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except its ending.

• Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.
– Dwight D Eisenhower

• Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don’t.

• Tracers work both ways.
– US Army Ordnance

• Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo.
– Infantry Journal

• War is a competition of incompetence – the least incompetent usually win.
– Pakistani General Tiger, after losing Bangladesh

• We all have appointments with the past.
– W. G. Sebald

• We are not retreating, we are advancing in another direction.

• We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.
– (often attributed to George Orwell, but more likely is a summary of Orwell’s view on the matter actually written by columnist Richard Grenier)

• What all the wise men promised has not happened and what all the dammed fools said would happen has come to pass.
– Lord Melbourne

• When in doubt empty the magazine.

• When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.
– US Marine Corps

• When other Generals make mistakes their armies are beaten; when I get into a hole, my men pull me out of it.
– The Duke of Wellington, after Waterloo

• When you’re short of everything but the enemy, you’re in combat.

• Who cares if a laser guided 500 lb bomb is accurate to within 9 feet?

• Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.
– General MacArthur

• You don’t win a war by dying for your country. You win a war by making the other son-of-a-bitch die for his.
– General George Patton

• You, you, and you: Panic. The rest of you, come with me.
– US Marine Corp Gunnery Sgt

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *