The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 7 – Military Combat

The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 7 – Military Combat

  • General strategy for employing the army:
    • General receives command from the ruler, unites the armies, assembles masses, confronts the enemy
    • Difficult to turn the circuitous to the straight & turning adversity into advantage
      • If you can do this, you will arrive before the enemy
  • Combat between armies is advantageous but dangerous between masses
    • If you rush to be somewhere, you’ll have to leave your armor, march all day & night faster than usual you will lose
      • The strong will arrive first. The exhausted will follow. Only 10% will show up on time
    • Marching 25 km just to get an advantage will cause problems – maybe only 1/2 will show up
      • 15 km – maybe 2/3
  • If you don’t have armor or supplies, your army is done for
  • If you don’t know what your feudal lords’ plans are, it’s hard to make alliances
    • You can’t lead an army unless you know how to handle terrain: mountains, forests, gorges, swamps
      • You need to use local guides to make the most of them
  • If you know how to deceive, you’ll win – knowing how to divide & unite forces, making the army adaptable to its surroundings
    • Think first before you act
      • When plundering, let the troops keep some of the wealth
      • When growing territory, divide the profits
    • Understand the tactics of the circuitous & direct
  • You can’t shout orders on a battlefield
    • Use flags, banners, gongs & drums to direct troops. They’re visible & audible, & will make use of your numbers from far away
    • Night battles – you’ll need to use fires & drum
    • Day battles – you’ll need to use flags & pennants
  • An army’s spirit can be taken when the general’s mind is taken
    • A soldier is brightest in the morning & fades as the day wears on
    • Avoid an army who is strong in spirit & strike when it is weary
    • Be near the goal when the enemy is far from it
    • Be full when the enemy is hungry
    • Be ordered in waiting for disorder
    • Be tranquil in waiting for the clamorous
    • Don’t strike a well-ordered army
    • Don’t approach high mountains
    • Don’t attack armies on a hill
    • Don’t follow an army faking a retreat
    • Don’t fight an army in good spirits
    • Don’t take any bait offered to you
    • Don’t block an enemy heading home
    • If surrounding an army, allow them an outlet

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