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100 Sun Tzu's The Art of War


Part 66

Sun Tzu said: There are different kinds of terrain in nature. Some terrain is easily accessible, some is entrapping, some temporizing, some constricted, some precipitous and some distant.

What terrain is accessible? Ground that is easy for both your troops and the enemy's to move across is called accessible terrain. If you enter the accessible region, you should first take high and sunny positions and keep your supply routes unimpeded. This is convenient for you to fight with the enemy.

Part 67

Ground that is entrapping is easy for you to enter, but difficult to get out from. In such terrain you make a sally if the enemy is unprepared, and you will defeat him. If the enemy is fully prepared for your coming and you launch an attack, you may not defeat him, and you will have a difficult time getting back. This is the disadvantage.

Part 68

Ground that is temporizing is disadvantageouS for both the enemy and yourself to make a sally. In such terrain even if the enemy offers you an attractive bait, do not make a sally, but pretend to retreat. When his troops are halfway out in pursuit of you, you may strike them. This is the advantage.

Part 69

If you occupy such a ground that is narrow or constricted, you should block the narrow passes with strong garrisons and wait for the enemy there. If the enemy has taken it first and blocked these narrow passes, you should not make a sally. If the enemy has not blocked them, you may pursue him.

Part 70

If you first occupy a precipitous ground you should take a high position on the sunny side to wait for the coming enemy. If the enemy races to control it, you should lead your troops away, and do not make a sally.

Part 71

If the enemy stations his troops on a distant terrain and his strength matches yours, it is certainly not easy to provoke a battle. Therefore it is to your disadvantage to sally.
These, then, are the ways to take advantage of six different types of terrain to fight. The generals have the highest responsibility to inquire into them carefully.

Part 72

A general should know six situations that point to the defeat of an army: when soldiers take flight, when they have lax discipline, when the army is bogged down by weak soldiers, when it collapses under insurgence, when it is disorganized and when it is routed. None of these situations can be attributed to natural disasters, they are the faults of the generals, which are not inevitable.

Part 73

When conditions and military strengths are equal between you and your enemy, if your army has to fight one ten times its size, the result is your flight. When soldiers are brave and skilled, but officers are weak and incompetent, the whole army will be lax in discipline. When officers are valiant and competent but soldiers are weak and out of training, the army will be bogged down. When some senior officers have grudges against the commander, they are insubordinate. When they encounter the enemy, they rush into battle without authorization. If at the same time, the commander is ignorant of their abilities, the army will collapse. When the commander is weak, incompetent and fails to command respect, when officers and soldiers behave in an undisciplined way, lacking proper training and clear instructions, when military formations are disorderly, the army is in serious disorganization. If a commander fails to estimate the enemy's strength, uses a small force against a large army, fights the strong enemy with his weak troops and at the same time does not select crack units as vanguards, the result is rout.
All these six situations are the causes of defeat. It is the most important responsibility of a commander to study them with great care.

Part 74

Terrain is an important aid to a commander in military operations. Correctly estimating the enemy's situation, creating conditions to win, and carefully calculating the dangerous grounds and distances are the basic duties of a wise commander. He who knows these and can apply them in war will definitely win; he who is ignorant of these and cannot employ them in war will certainly lose.
If, in the light of the prevailing situation, fighting is sure to result in victory, a wise commander will decide to fight even if the sovereign tells him not to. Conversely, if the situation points to defeat, he will decide not to fight even if the sovereign orders him to.

Therefore, a great commander advances without seeking personal fame and gain, retreats without shirking responsibility, aims at protecting the safety of the people and promotes the interests of the sovereign. Such a commander is a gem of the state.

Part 75

If a general cares for his men as he does infant$, they will follow him through thick and thin. If he dearly loves his men as he does his own beloved sons they will be willing to die with him in battle. If a general, indulges his men but does not know how to use them, loves them but cannot command them, and when they violate laws and regulations, he fails to punish and manage them, such soldiers are like spoiled children and will be useless for battle.

Part 76

A general, who only knows his troops' ability to launch an attack but does not know the enemy's invulnerability, will only have half the chance of victory. He, who only knows the enemy may be defeated but does not know his own troops' inability to fight, will also only have half the chance of victory. If he knows that the enemy can be defeated and that his own troops have the ability to strike, but does not know if the lay of the land makes it unsuitable for battle, his chance of winning is also merely half.
So a general who is skilled in military operations moves his troops without losing his direction and purpose and acts with unlimited resources and adaptations. So it is said: Know both the enemy and yourself and you will win victory with no danger; know both weather and geographical conditions and you will be evervictorious.
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