Military Wit and Wisdom: Quotes on Surviving Combat

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Respected for their discipline, honor and ability to face the most intense situations in the name of freedom, the U.S. military knows a thing or two about surviving combat. These are some of our favorite quotes from our armed forces. Quotes: Military Wit and Wisdom

Military Philosophies

“Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.”

“If you find yourself in a fair fight – you didn’t plan your mission properly.”

“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.”

“Optimists study English; pessimists study Chinese; and realists learn to use a Kalashnikov.”

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”

“That city is well-fortified which has a wall of men instead of brick.”

Lycurgus, the legendary Spartan law-giver

“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.”

“The power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to defend yourself and your loved ones, because if you cannot inflict pain on others then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever truly protect you.”


Military Humor

“If the enemy is in range, so are you.”

“Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword, obviously never encountered automatic weapons.”

“Do you know what a soldier is, young man? He's the chap who makes it possible for civilized folk to despise war.”

“Tracer rounds work both ways.”

“If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up with him.”


“When you’re short of everything but the enemy, you are in combat.”


“Sniper: If you run, you’ll only die tired.”


“What you can't solve with politics, you can solve with a 5.56.”

U.S. Marine Corps Expression's Resistance Library: Quotes

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