Rule #2 of Combat: Don’t Assume Nuttin’

By | January 7, 2022

[January 7, 2022]  An often-quoted rule in combat is to don’t assume nuttin’.  As soon as you do, your world will begin to fall apart, and people will know you failed to do your homework.  Facts matter; suppositions don’t count for anything.  Making assumptions in combat will get you or your buddy killed.

“Don’t assume nuttin’ … the enemy has a vote on how to kill you.” – Dougisms

There are plenty of bad habits that pull a good leader down; making assumptions (about anything of importance) is one of them.  It shows when your assumption turns out to be false.  When people assume, they are often wrong on significant issues.  One good technique to overcome making incorrect assumptions is to talk with many people about the same issue.  That is what most of us do.

“Mister, when you have an important job to do, never assume.  When you look at the word, you can see it is made up of three parts—ass u and me.  When you rely on assumptions, sooner or later it will make an ass of both of us.” – USAF Colonel Clarence L. Lollar, 1964

In 2005, when I ordered 400 tents to house a Brigade of 101st Airborne Division troops, it rained, and the tents leaked.  The civilian contractor said I had asked for tents, not tents that didn’t leak.  Even common assumptions don’t always hold.

It’s easy to make assumptions.  We all do it, and we do so all the time.  All you need to fill in the blanks about a situation is to assume.  The assumption is based on your experiences, education, and information from others.  This is how we connect-the-dots … and it works.  But doing so is a lazy man’s way out.  Filling in the blanks takes hard work and focus.

Here are a few assumptions that inevitably got peopled killed or seriously injured:

  1. The gun was unloaded (remember Alec Baldwin and Brandon Lee).
  2. That guy wasn’t armed [with a gun, knife, or another weapon].
  3. The electricity, water, or gas will not stop.
  4. Your car won’t have a flat tire or start.
  5. There’s nobody behind you [when doing something dangerous].
  6. The police will protect you when time is critical.
  7. Emergency health care is always available.

It’s dangerous to make assumptions on essential matters.  The risk should be assessed, even if this assessment is quick or informal.  I hate being wrong, but it always seems to come out that way when I make assumptions.

Don’t assume nuttin’.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “Rule #2 of Combat: Don’t Assume Nuttin’

  1. Wally Z.

    Great series on Rules of Combat. Keep these coming our way. 👀

  2. Edward G.

    Excellent and yet commonsensical advice. Too bad so many young people today have zero commonsense.

  3. Clem C.

    Wonderful work on this idea that mankind can create rules from chaos, so fascinating!

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      Dr. Jordan Peterson from the Univ. of Toronto studies and speaks on this topic often. I recommend his lectures which can be found on YouTube.

  4. Army Captain

    Always assume a gun is loaded. Don’t point it at anything you don’t intend to shoot. We violate that all the time. Oh, and keep your stupid finger off the trigger until you are ready to pull it.

    1. Audrey

      Training in the US marines and Army emphasize these rules all the time. Good.

  5. Dale Paul Fox

    Good list of assumptions that might get you or your family killed. I agree. Maybe some of us could improve upon the list. Just because you are armed in such a scenario doesn’t mean you’ll have it in you to be a hero and take out one of these sociopaths. Don’t understand why? Start reading Grossman. Then come to camp and talk to Rory Miller and/or read some of his books.

    1. Willie Strumburger

      That’s what this site is about, great articles in little tidbits. 👍

  6. Karl J.

    We all makes assumptions about hundreds of things everyday, mostly small and we are mostly accurate. When we are wrong, mostly no big deal but when a leader makes a huge assumption that is critical and is false (or wrong), now we have a problem. The result is not good.

  7. Qassim

    Liberals are willing to invent Constitutional rights (like abortion on demand), while simultaneously trying to destroy the second Amendment. What’s up with that? Smorgasbord rights and duties. Pick and chose what you want and what you don’t want.

  8. lydia truman

    NO. 6, The police will protect you when time is critical. Yeah, and that is why I guy guns and more guns and more ammo. ✔

    1. Guns are Us

      I’m stocked up. What about you? Are you prepared when violence comes for you and the police have been defunded?

    1. Emma Archambeau

      Gen. Satterfield has given this to us in the recent past. My favorite was “Bring a weapon. Preferably, bring at least two. Bring all of your friends who have weapons. Bring their friends who have weapons.”

      1. Joe Omerrod

        Yep, only real men who are not snowflakes or sissy men. Every wonder why so many basement dwelling liberals are the first to get triggered? face your fears. That is how life improves. One day we will look back and laugh and cry at the stupidity of today’s young folks and those who enabled them.

  9. Erleldech

    I like this series but only two parts. I look forward to the remaining “rules of combat.” Interesting, yes!


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