The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 3 – Planning Offenses

The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 3 – Planning Offenses

  • Preserving the enemy’s capital is best
    • Destroying it is second best
  • Preserving the enemy’s army, battalions, companies & squads is best
    • Destroying them is second best
  • Winning 100 battles isn’t as good as subjugating the enemy’s army without fighting
  • Rank of what’s best to attack
    • Enemy’s plans
    • Enemy’s alliances
    • Enemy’s army
    • Enemy’s fortified cities
      • Only attack fortified cities when you have to
    • Preparing large mobile shields, armored assault wagons, etc. Takes 3 months
    • Building earthworks. Takes 3 months
      • You can’t skip these & attack fortified cities your men will be mowed down & still not win
  • The best is to win without fighting, capturing cities without attacking them & destroying the enemy without a protracted war
    • Fight for preservation
  • If your army is 10x larger, surround the enemy
    • If your army is 5x larger, attack the enemy
    • If your army is 2x larger, divide your forces
    • If the armies are of equal size, engage the enemy
    • If your army has fewer numbers, circumvent the enemy
    • If your army is outmatched, avoid the enemy
      • A small inflexible army will be captured
  • The general is a supporting pillar of the state
    • If he’s very talented, the state will be fine
    • If he’s weak, the state will be weak
  • 3 ways a ruler can put an army in difficulty
    1. He tells the army to advance when it shouldn’t or doesn’t know it shouldn’t withdraw & orders a retreat
    2. Confusing officers – He doesn’t understand military affairs but treats it like regular government affairs
    3. Doesn’t understand tactical balance of power but takes command – causes officers to doubt
  • When the army is doubtful & confused, there is a danger of feudal lords. Disorder army gives the other army victory
  • 5 ways to win:
    1. When you know you can fight or when you can’t
    2. Recognizing how to use large & small forces
    3. Upper & lower ranks are united
    4. Fully prepared, awaiting the unprepared
    5. Capable general & not interfered with by the rule
  • Know the enemy & yourself & you’ll be fine
    • Don’t know the enemy & know yourself, you’ll win some & lose some
    • Don’t know either, you’ll always lose

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