Some Thoughts Courtesy of Charlie Black

Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 02 2010

Charlie Black was a U.S. Marine who served in World War II and Korea. He later became a journalist for the Columbus Ledger Inquirer and spent most of 1965-66 in Vietnam with the 1st Cav, the same unit written about in “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young” .

A great book that was passed to me during The Basic School, “From the Horses Mouth“, has an article by Charlie called, “Fourteen Proverbs Gleaned from a Damp Foxhole”. You’re going to want to read them all, but be sure to check out #14.

1. All military doctrine is intended for level, paved roads on pleasant June days. Other situations demand field expedients.

2. No other military equipment has the perfection of the C-ration can opener.

3. Men can go anywhere despite anything, except opposition by better men willing to go anywhere despite anything.

4. Night belongs to he who claims it. It is a friend to weak armies because strong armies are usually lazy.

5. Given a 15-Minute break, an Eskimo army will build air-conditioned igloos, Indian soldiers a Taj Mahal, American field model pentagons.

6. Infantryman can live through many battles with only average luck if they have a keen curiosity about what the enemy does and why he does it.

7. Scouts have an implied warranty that quick and effective use will be made of information.

8. A small unit in violent contact gives a commander with helicopters two choices, both immediate and with no excuse for delaying decision: 1) He can pile onto the fight, or 2) Accept possible sacrifice of the platoon

9. Complicated plans become simple later from necessity. Start them that way.

10. Every 30 minutes, remember this from Major General-designee Hal Moore, “Ask yourself what you aren’t doing that you should, and what you are doing that you shouldn’t.”

11. The best trick is to help the enemy believe he sees what he wants to see.

12. Adversities are simply a new, normal situation. See them in this light and find an advantage.

13. Plans which work exactly right must be relentlessly investigated.

And most importantly….

14. There are only four kinds of officers:

(1) The clever and energetic who make admirable staff officers.

(2) The clever and lazy who make magnificent generals.

(3) The stupid and lazy who can be used to grand effect by staff officers and generals.

(4) The stupid and energetic who must be executed at the first possible moment in order to check their breed.

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