100 Sun Tzu's The Art of War
|Use of Spies|
Sun Tzu said: When an army with one hundred thousand officers and soldiers is sent to war a thousand li away, the common people and the state treasury together have to spend a thousand pieces of gold everyday in support of it. There will be continuous disturbance at home and abroad, and a lot of common people involved with convoys are exhausted from performing transportation services. About seven hundred thousand households* will be unable to cultivate their fields. If a general engages his state in a drawn-out war for several years to strive for victory which is decided merely in a single day, and if the general begrudges the expenditure of a hundred pieces of gold in honours and emoluments to employ spies and is thus ignorant of the enemy's situations, he is, of course, completely devoid of humanity. Such a man is not a good general, not a good assistant to his sovereign, and no master of victory.
Therefore, an enlightened sovereign and an able general can defeat the enemy whenever they take action and achieve extraordinary accomplishments, because they can foresee the development of war. Such fore-knowledge cannot be obtained from ghosts and spirits, cannot be had from analogous experiences, cannot be found by calculating the positions of the sun, the moon and stare. It must be obtained from the people who clearly know the enemy's situations.
* In ancient China, eight families comprised a community. When one family sent a man to join the army, the remaining seven families contributed to its support. So, when an army of one hundred thousand was raised those unable to attend fully to their own ploughing and sowing amounted to seven hundred thousand households.
There are five kinds of spies to be used: native spy, inside spy, converted spy, expendable spy and surviving spy.
When you use the five kinds of secret agents simultaneously, the enemy cannot know the principle of their operation. It is divinely intricate and becomes the greatest magic weapon for the sovereign to defeat the enemy.
Native or local spies are those employed from among the enemy's villagers. Inside spies are those employed from among the enemy's officials. Converted spies are those employed from among the enemy spies. Expendable spies are our own secret agents, who are deliberately give some false information of ours to report to the enemy. Frequently they would be caught and put to death. Surviving spies are those who come and go between the enemy and us, and return safely with the enemy's information.
In regard to trusted followers in the armed forces, none is more intimate than the spies who are close to the general or the commander; of all rewards, none is more generous than those given to spies, and regarding military secrets, none is more confidential than those relating to espionage.
He who is not a sage cannot use spies; he who is not humane and just cannot command spies; he who is not careful and subtle cannot get truthful information from spies.
Subtle indeed! Truly subtle! There is no place where espionage is not possible. If a secret plan is divulged prematurely, the spy and those who are told about it shall be put to death.
If you plan to strike an enemy's troops, or attack an enemy's city, or kill an enemy's commander, you must find out first the name of the chief garrison commander, his aides-de-camp, trusted followers, ushers, gatekeepers and bodyguards, and you must instruct your spies to investigate these in detail.
You must ascertain those enemy spies who have been sent to conduct espionage against you. Bribe them, exhort and release them to serve you. At last they will become converted spies and work for you.
Through these converted spies, you can obtain information about the enemy and recruit native spies and inside spies. In this way, your expendable spies may convey the false information about your army to the enemy. In the same way, the surviving spies you sent to the enemy may return on schedule and give you information.
A sovereign must know how to use the five types of spies. Such knowledge is necessarily derived from the converted spies, so converted spies should be rewarded generously.
In ancient history, the rise of Yin* was due to Yi Zhi, who was former minister of Xia; and the rise of the Zhou Dynasty* was due to Jiang Ziya*, the former minister of Shang.
So only the enlightened sovereign and the able general can find out and use the intelligent men as spies and achieve great tasks. The use of spies is essential in war, and the army must depend on this in its action.
* Yin, the later period of the Shang Dynasty (16th-11th century B.C.).
* Zhou Dynasty, (llth-2nd century B.C.)
* Jiang Ziya: alias L?Ya.
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