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100 Sun Tzu's The Art of War
The Army on the March


Part 55



Sun Tzu said: A general must observe the following when he deploys troops for battle and investigate the opponent's situation.
Be sure to stay near the valleys when going through mountains; select a place on high ground facing the sunlight for the military camps and do not ascend to fight a battle on high ground. This is the law for taking military position in mountains.

After crossing a river you must stay far away from it. If the enemy attacks from across the river, do not meet him in the water. Instead, it is advantageous to allow half of the enemy's troops to get across and then strike them. If you wish to fight with the enemy, do not go to meet him near a river. Instead, select a place on high ground facing the sunlight for the camps and never encamp in the lower reaches of a river. This is the law for taking up military position in the region of rivers.

Be sure to cross salt marshes quickly with no delay. On encountering the enemy's troops in a salt marsh, keep to those places with plenty of grass with trees to the rear. This is the law for taking up military position in the region of salt marshes.

Be sure to select an easily accessible place on level ground to pitch camps, with heights to the right and rear, so that the low ground is in front and the high ground be- hind. This is the law for taking up military position on level ground.

These are the very four laws for encamping and disposing troops which enabled the Yellow Emperor* to conquer the four other emperors* in ancient times.

*Yellow Emperor: It was said that the Yellow Emperor was the first father of Han nation.
*four other emperors: leaders of four tribes in the time of the Yellow Emperor.

Part 56


All commanders prefer to station their troops on high ground rather than on low land, in the sunlight rather than in the shade and where food crops can grow and the ground is protected. The troops can be free from diseases and this guarantees victory. If you find hills or dikes, you should station your troops on the sunnyside, with the hills or dikes at your back. Such military advantages are afforded by the suitable ground on which you station your troops.

Part 57


If heavy rain falls in the upper reaches of a river and forms torrents rushing down to the lower course, never cross the river but wait until the flood subsides.
When you encounter these dangerous situations, never approach them but avert them quickly: a deep ravine with a violent torrent; a deep gully with dangerous cliffs around; a hemmed-in position as perilous as a prison where it is easy to enter it but difficult to get out, a position which is overgrown with grass and thickets; a low-lying marshy land and a narrow pass between two precipitous mountains.

Keep away from these positions and let the enemy approach them; face them and cause the enemy to put his back against them.

If you find near your camp dangerous defiles, lowlying land overgrown with reeds, or forested mountains with dense tangled undergrowth, you must have a thorough search to see if there are ambushes laid or spies hiding.

Part 58


If the enemy's troops are near your camps and yet they remain composed, it is because their position is advantageous to them. If they are far away from you and yet dare to come and challenge you to battle, it is because they want to seduce you to make an advance. If the enemy stations his troops in a convenient place, it is because there are practical advantages in doing so.

Part 59


When you find the trees moving, the enemy is advancing towards you. When you find a lot of obstacles hidden among the undergrowth, you know that is the enemy's deception. Birds rising in flight shows there are troops in ambush. Frightened animals scurrying about is a sign of the enemy's imminent attack. Clouds of dust gushing out in high straight columns tells you that the enemy's chariots are approaching. When the dust stays low and is widespread, it is a sign that the enemy's infantry is drawing near. But if the dust is scattered around, it shows that the enemy is cutting firewood. When the dust is low and small and rise intermittently, it indicates that the enemy is going to pitch camps.


Part 60


When the enemy's messenger speaks humbly while his war preparations continue, the enemy is going to advance. When the enemy speaks uncompromisingly and threatens to advance, he is going to retreat. When the enemy's light chariots set out first and take position on both wings, it signifies that the enemy is arranging his battle formation. When the enemy asks for a truce without advance appointment, it means that he must have been plotting. When the generals of the enemy busily move about to arrange the positions of foot-soldiers and armed vehicles, that shows the enemy is expecting to launch a decisive attack. When half of the enemy's troops advances and half retreats, that means that the enemy is trying to decoy you.

Part 61


When you find the enemy's soldiers leaning on their weapons, you can reason that they have been famished. When you find the enemy's soldiers drink the water they draw before carrying it to the camp, it means that they have been suffering from thirst. And when the enemy sees some profit but does not try to obtain it, it is because he has been completely exhausted. When birds wheel above the enemy's campsite, it suggests that the camp must be unoccupied and the enemy has fled. Clamour from the enemy's camp at night shows that the enemy's troops are terrified and insecure. Disturbance in the enemy's camp means his generals have lost their prestige and authority. When banners and flags are shifted about, confusion must have appeared in the enemy's camp. When lower officers become irritable, they have been weary of war. If the enemy feeds his horses with grain, kills beasts of draught as food for the soldiers, destroys his cooking utensils, and shows no intention to return to the camp, that is to say, he has already determined to fight to death.

Part 62


When soldiers gather together in small groups and complain in a murmur, it betokens that the general has lost their support. A commander who rewards his soldiers too often is in a predicament. He who punishes his soldiers too frequently is in serious distress. If he treats his soldiers violently at first and then fears that they will betray him, he is extremely unintelligent. If the enemy sends a messenger to express his`thanks in a mild tone, it indicates that the enemy wishes for a truce.

Part 63


If the enemy's troops come angrily to meet you and confront yours for a long time, neither fighting nor retreating, you must watch cautiously what they are going to do.

Part 64


Having more soldiers in war does not give absolute superiority. Never advance recklessly by sheer force, but concentrate your troops through a correct assessment of the enemy's disposition and you will defeat the enemy. He who lacks careful thought and strategy and underestimates the enemy will surely be captured by the opponent.

Part 65


When soldiers are rashly punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not obey you. Such troops are naturally very difficult for you to command if the soldiers have become attached to you, but you exercise no strict and impartial discipline, you still cannot command them to fight.
You should command your troops with civility and humanity, unify and control them with martial discipline, and you will be invincible. If orders are strictly observed to discipline and instruct the troops,the soldiers will be obedient. Otherwise they will be disobedient. If orders are observed constantly and conscientiously, both the commander and the soldiers will benefit and trust each other.
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