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Quotes / General Failure

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Zapp: What the hell is that thing?
Kif: It appears to be The Mothership.
Zapp: Then what did we just blow up?
Kif: (checks instruments) The Hubble Telescope.

"A good general does not lead an army to destruction just because he knows it will follow."
Warhammer 40,000, "The Tactica Imperialis"

"We piled aboard the small chopper and after a bit of map pointing to the pilot we lifted off.
"I love the RAF," said Jed.
"I love them too, sir," said I.
After a short flight the chopper landed. We all got out and waved our thanks and farewells to the crew and Major Jenner checked his map. After a quick examination he announced that we had been dropped in the wrong place.
"I fucking hate the RAF," said Jed.
"I fucking hate them too, sir," said I."
Ken Lukowiak, A Soldiers Song: True Stories From The Falklands

"Major Barkison had a sure method of foretelling weather, or anything else for that matter: He would, for instance, select a certain patch of sky and then slowly count to three; if, during that time, no sea gull crossed the patch of sky, the thing he wanted would come true. This method could be applied to everything and the Major had great faith in it.

He looked at a certain section of sky above a distant volcano. Slowly he counted. At the count of two a gull flew across his patch of sky. The Major frowned. He had a way, however, of dealing with this sort of thing. He would use the best two counts out of three. Quickly he counted. No gull appeared. The trip would not be bad."
Gore Vidal, Williwaw

Captain Darling: In short: A German spy is giving away all our battle plans.
General Melchett: You look surprised, Blackadder.
Captain Blackadder: I certainly am, sir. I didn't realise we had any battle plans.
General Melchett: Well, of course we have! How else do you think the battles are directed?
Captain Blackadder: Our battles are directed, sir?
General Melchett: Well, of course they are, Blackadder, directed according to the Grand Plan.
Captain Blackadder: Would that be the plan to continue with total slaughter until everyone's dead except Field Marshal Haig, Lady Haig and their tortoise, Alan?
General Melchett: Great Scott! Even you know it!
Blackadder Goes Forth

"Militarily speaking, it's only fair to say that Cobra Commander is a World-Class... Buffoon!"

"As far as helping his own cause goes, Stanley is somewhere between Gilligan and Starscream."
Parson Gotti, Erfworld

"For pure, vacillating stupidity, for superb incompetence to command, for ignorance combined with bad judgement - in short, for the true talent for catastrophe - Elphy Bey stood alone. Others abide our question, but Elphy outshines them all as the greatest military idiot of our own or any other day. Only he could have permitted the First Afghan War and let it develop to such a ruinous defeat. It was not easy: he started with a good army, a secure position, some excellent officers, a disorganised enemy, and repeated opportunities to save the situation. But Elphy, with the touch of true genius, swept aside these obstacles with unerring precision, and out of order wrought complete chaos. We shall not, with luck, look upon his like again."
Flashman on General William George Keith Elphinstone

"He would have made an excellent Lieutenant, a capable Captain, a passable Major and a mediocre Colonel. As a General, he was an absolute disaster."
Bremer dan Gorst, on General Jalenhorm, divisional commander in the Union army, The Heroes

"When we fought the Yankees and annihilation was near,
Who was there to lead the charge that took us safe to the rear?
Why it was Jubilation T. Cornpone;
Old "Toot your own horn - pone."
Jubilation T. Cornpone, a man who knew no fear!

When we almost had 'em but the issue still was in doubt,
Who suggested the retreat that turned it into a rout?
Why it was Jubilation T. Cornpone;
Old "Tattered and torn - pone."
Jubilation T. Cornpone, he kept us hidin' out!

With our ammunition gone and faced with utter defeat,
Who was it that burned the crops and left us nothing to eat?
Why it was Jubilation T. Cornpone;
Old "September Morn - pone."
Jubilation T. Cornpone, the pants blown off his seat!

Marryin' Sam, Li'l Abner

"I understand you perfectly, Esplin 9466. You have the necessary brutality without the necessary subtlety. You are crude and emotional. You've made no progress with Earth. None. For all your grandiose schemes, you are no further toward your goal than when you took over."
Visser One to Visser Three, Animorphs

Veers: My lord, the fleet has moved out of lightspeed. Comscan has detected an energy field protecting an area of the sixth planet of the Hoth system. The field is strong enough to deflect any bombardment.
Darth Vader: The rebels are alerted to our presence. Admiral Ozzel came out of lightspeed too close to the system.
Veers: He felt surprise was wiser...
Darth Vader: He is as clumsy as he is stupid.

Real Life

"Thousands of lives and millions of property are yearly sacrificed to the insufficiency of our Commander-in-Chief. Two battles he has lost for us by two such blunders as might have disgraced a soldier of three months standing."
The attorney general of Pennsylvania, criticizing George Washington

''"Brandor asks [about Conrad von Hotzendorf (commander of the Austio-Hungarian Army during the First World War)] 'How the hell is that man considered to be a military genius? Can someone explain that to me?' No. No I can't. It baffles me."'m
Indy Neidell, The Great War

"ATSC built and sold the ADE-651 detectors throughout 2008 and 2009, advertising them as the ultimate bomb detector. The specific claims were that the device was powered by "the body's energy fields" and it detected bombs using special cards that had been through "the proprietary process of electro-static matching of the ionic charge and structure of the substance". In addition to this magic, the detectors were claimed to be able to operate at great distances (5000 metres from an aircraft) and to get around all methods of bomb concealment. The method that it uses to detect bombs hasn't even been fully agreed upon by its inventors, with one source claiming "electrostatic ion attraction" and another claiming "electrochemical (Thermo-Redox) detection". To anyone with some knowledge of chemistry, both of those will sound nonsensical in the context of remotely detecting a bomb...The ADE-651 still has a major supporter, however, in the shape of Major-General Jehad al-Jabiri, head of the Ministry of the Interior’s General Directorate for Combating Explosives. He is responsible for the continuing use of the devices in Iraq, and blames their lack of success on operator error. Hundreds of people have died due to this "operator error", but al-Jabiri is unmoved. "I know more about bombs than anyone in the world," he says."

"It is reported that when a name would be presented to Napoleon for promotion to general, his question was always the same, "Is he lucky?" Burnside would never have made it in that army."
William G. Forstchen on US Army General Ambrose Burnside, "The Crater: The Mine", How to Lose a Battle: Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders

"Brains! I don’t believe in brains."
Prince George, Duke of Cambridge and Commander-in-Chief of the British army until 1895


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