The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 9 – Maneuvering the Army

The Art of War – Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) – Chapter 9 – Maneuvering the Army

  • Encamping the army & observing the enemy’s sights:
    • Pass quickly over mountains & stay near valleys
    • Camp in high places facing the sun
    • Don’t climb mountains & hills to fight
    • Once over a river, get far away from it
      • If an enemy’s crossing a stream, wait until half the troops have crossed, then attack
    • Don’t meet an enemy near a river he has to cross
      • Dock upstream & face the sun. Never go upstream to fight an enemy
    • Cross marshes as quickly as possible
      • If forced to fight there, get your back to the trees
    • On plains, take an accessible position with rising ground to the right & the rear
      • Danger is in front & safety is behind
    • Armies prefer higher ground to lower ground, & sunny places to dark places
    • Camp on a hard ground to avoid disese
    • Occupy the sunny side of a hill to use natural advantages
    • If in a rainy place with flooding rivers, wait until still it subsides to cross
    • If in an area with cliffs with torrents in between, leave them as soon as you can
      • Keep away from them but try to get the enemy to go there with these to their rear
    • If you’re in hills, ponds with grass or reeds, or in woods with undergrowth, search for an ambush or spies
    • If the enemy is near & quiet, he has a natural position of strength
    • If he’s aloof & tries to provoke a battle, he’s anxious for you to move
    • If he’s in a place of easy access, he’s setting a trip
    • If he’s near trees & grass, it must be a screen
    • Flying birds might mean there’s an ambush
    • Rising columns of dust means chariots are coming
      • Lower dust moving means infantry are coming
      • Dust moving in many directions means the troops are collecting firewood
      • A few clouds moving to & fro mean an army’s encamping
    • Humble words & more preparations mean the enemy is about to advance
      • Violent words & moving as if to attack means he’s about to retreat
    • If chariots arrive first & establish wings, they are forming for battle
    • Peace proposals without any prior conditions are a plot
    • When troops run around & then fall into rank means the enemy is executing a pre-planned maneuver
    • When some advance & some retreat, it’s a lure
    • If soldiers who are sent for water for the army drink a lot for themselves first, means they & the rest of the army are very thirsty
    • If soldiers fail to try to take advantage of an obvious opportunity, they’re exhausted
    • If birds are hanging around a spot quietly, the space is empty
    • If the enemy cries out in the night, they’re afraid
    • If an army is turbulent, the general is weak & has no control
    • If flags & pennants move around a lot, there’s chaos
    • If officers are angry, it’s because they’re tired
    • If the army kills a load of horses for food, they are starving
    • If they don’t hang up cookware before attacking or going into tents, it means they’re going to fight to the death
    • If troops form small groups here & there, & speak in hushed tones, they’re against their leaders
    • A general who gives rewards often is distressed
      • A general who gives punishment too often is in difficulty
      • A general who is excessively brutal & fears his man is a moron
      • A general who sends emissaries back & forth is playing for time
    • If troops are aroused & approach only to maintain ranks without engaging in battle, something is fishy
    • If our troops aren’t greater than their, you can’t advance aggressively
      • Muster your strength, analyze the enemy & take them.
      • No plan = you will be captured
    • If you punish troops before they take to you, they will be useless
    • If you command them with humanity but keep them disciplined, you will win
    • If commands are habitually enforced, they’ll be well-disciplined
      • If not, they’ll be undisciplined
    • If you show confidence but require commands to be obeyed, you & your troops will be fine

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