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100 Sun Tzu's The Art of War
Part 42

Sun Tzu said: In military operations the general receives his commands from the sovereign, then he assembles soldiers to form units, and mobilizes them to confront the enemy. During the whole process nothing is more difficult than to fight for a favourable position with the enemy.
The reason why it is most difficult is that the general must make a circuitous route direct and turn disadvantage into advantage. He can deceive the enemy by taking a devious route and tempt the enemy with a bait, so that his own troops arrive at the battle ground earlier, though they set out later than the enemy. Only doing this can he know the artifice of "making a circuitous route direct."

Part 43


There is not only advantage but also danger in fighting for a favourable position. If you strive for a favourable position in battle, bringing along the whole impedimenta, naturally, you will be slowed down. If you leave the impedimenta behind, naturally, it will be lost.
So if your army buckles on armour and hastily makes for a favourable position in battle, stopping neither day nor night and marching at double speed, as a result, after running a hundred li, the main generals of the army will be captured; those who are strong and vigorous will get there first, those who are feeble and tired will straggle behind. In this way, only one-tenth of the army will arrive on time. If they run fifty li to pursue a favourable position, the general of the vanguards will suffer setbacks, and only half of the army will arrive there on time. If they run thirty li to fight for a good position, only two-thirds will arrive.

Everyone knows that the army will be defeated by the enemy if it has no impedimenta, food and military provisions.

Part 44


The offensive one takes can be so strong that the enemy cannot defend just because one strikes at the enemy's weak point. One can withdraw without being overtaken by the enemy just because one moves so swiftly that the enemy cannot pursue. If we intend to fight, the enemy, though holding fast to his position with ramparts high and ditches deep, is compelled to fight with us because we attack where he must succour. If we do not intend to fight with him, even though we set up little defence, the enemy will not intrude upon us because we divert him from going where he wishes.

Part 37


A commander who does not understand the plots and schemes of the princes cannot enter into alliances with them. He who is not familiar with different topographical features of mountains and forests, hazardous defiles, marshes and swamps cannot conduct the march of an army. He who does not hire local guides cannot gain a favourable position for battle.

Part 44


A commander who does not understand the plots and schemes of the princes cannot enter into alliances with them. He who is not familiar with different topographical features of mountains and forests, hazardous defiles, marshes and swamps cannot conduct the march of an army. He who does not hire local guides cannot gain a favourable position for battle.
Part 45


In military operations, you may gain victory with military stratagem, you should take action when conditions are favourable, and you may divide or concentrate the army according to circumstances. So you should be as swift as strong wind while taking action; you should be as stable as silent forests which the wind cannot shake while you move slowly; you should be as fierce and violent as raging flames while raiding the enemy's state; you should be as firm as high mountains while being stationed there; you should be as inscrutable as something behind the clouds, and you should strike as suddenly as thunderclap. You must divide your forces and plunder the enemy's countryside, and separate them for the defence of the newly captured territory. You must weigh the pros and cons before you move. He who masters the tactic of deviation first will win victory. This is how to fight for military advantage.

Part 46


The book Military Management says, 'Gongs and drums are used in battle because voices are not heard; banners and flags are used because soldiers cannot see one another clearly.'
Accordingly, they usually use gongs, drums, flags and banners as instruments to unify the army.

When the soldiers have been unified, the courageous cannot advance alone, and the cowardly cannot retreat by himself. This is the rule for directing a large army.

So fires and drums are usually used as signals in night battles, while banners and flags are employed in day battles. What it does is just to adapt to the soldiers' ability to hear and to see.

Part 47


You should deflate the enemy's fighting spirit and shake the general's morale. Normally, at the beginning of war the spirit of the enemy is keen and irresistible. A certain period later, it will decline and slacken. In the final stages of war it will become feeble, and the soldiers are in no mood to fight.

Part 48


The skilful commander always avoids the enemy when his morale is high and irresistible, and attacks him when he is slack, tired and reluctant to fight. If he does so he can master the soldiers' morale. He keeps a highly disciplined army to fight the confused enemy army, and confronts the clamorous enemy troops with his own troops in serenity. If he does so, he can have a good grasp of the soldiers' morale. He takes his troops close to the battlefield to wait for the enemy still coming from afar, leads his troops that has had a full rest against the exhausted enemy, and brings his well-fed troops upon the enemy soldiers that are hungry. If he does this, he has good control of military strength.
The skilful commander never meets a head-on enemy that lines up in good order with banners high, nor attacks an enemy with battle formation strong and impressive. This shows that he has a clear understanding of the flexible use of tactics.
Part 49


Here are some principles of military operations. Never launch an upward attack on the enemy who occupies high ground; nor meet the enemy head-on when there are hills backing him; nor follow on his heels in hot pursuit when he pretends to flee; nor attack troops that are fresh and strong. Never swallow a bait offered by the enemy, nor thwart the enemy that withdraws from the front. To a surrounded enemy you should leave a way for his escape, and do not press too hard the enemy that is in a desperate corner. Such are the ways of military operations.
Tactical Variables


Part 50


Sun Tzu said: In military operations, the general receives his commands from the sovereign, then he assembles soldiers to form units. In leading his troops, do not encamp or station where it is difficult for the army to pass through; ally with the local princes where the highway extends in all directions; do not linger where it is uninhabitable; venture into an enclosed region with shrewdness and stratagem; fight a desperate battle where there is no way to advance or retreat. There are some roads which should not be followed; some enemy troops which should not be attacked. There are some cities which should not be captured, some territories which should not be seized, and some orders from the sovereign which need not be obeyed.

Part 51


All the above are the tactical variables which a general or commander should thoroughly understand. Only if he knows them well can he know military operations. If he does not have a clear understanding of their real values, he cannot use a territory to his advantage though he is well acquainted with its topography. If a general docs not know the tactical variables, he will not be able to bring the soldiers' fighting capacity into play, in spite of his knowing the five advantages*.
*five advantages: "There are some roads which should not be followed; ... and some orders from the sovereign which need not be obeyed."

Part 52


A wise general must give his consideration to both favourable factors and unfavourable factors. He should take full account of the unfavourable factors when he finds himself in a favourable position. Only then can he succeed in his plans. He should take full account of the favourable conditions while in an unfavourable position. Only then can he resolve the difficulties.
If you want to subdue the hostile princes, threaten them with what they fear most; if you want to make them do what you desire, trouble them with busy work; if you want to lead the enemy by the nose, give them small advantages.

Part 53


In military operations, the following is a useful rule. Never rely on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on your own readiness to meet him. Do not expect that the enemy may not launch an attack, but count on the fact that you have made yourself invincible.

Part 54


There are five fatal weaknesses of a general. He who is brave but not resourceful and only knows how to put up a desperate fight will easily be killed; he who is cowardly on the eve of a battle will easily be captured; he who is quick-tempered will easily be provoked into rash moves; he who has too delicate a sense of honour is liable to be shamed and driven to reckless action; he who is too benevolent and loves his people is liable to become hesitant and passive.
These five fatal weaknesses are all the general's faults which will be ruinous to military operations. The destruction of the whole army and the slaughter of the commanders are the inevitable results of these five fatal weaknesses. Therefore generals must not treat them lightly.
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