ES Thursday 10-27-16 : Hot Topic

The Art of War - 11. The Nine Situations

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1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war recognizes nine varieties of ground: (1) Dispersive ground; (2) facile ground; (3) contentious ground; (4) open ground; (5) ground of intersecting highways; (6) serious ground; (7) difficult ground; (8) hemmed-in ground; (9) desperate ground. tweet

2. When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory, it is dispersive ground. tweet

3. When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but to no great distance, it is facile ground. tweet

4. Ground the possession of which imports great advantage to either side, is contentious ground. tweet

5. Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is open ground. tweet

6. Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states, so that he who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command, is a ground of intersecting highways. tweet

7. When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear, it is serious ground. tweet

8. Mountain forests, rugged steeps, marshes and fens--all country that is hard to traverse: this is difficult ground. tweet

9. Ground which is reached through narrow gorges, and from which we can only retire by tortuous paths, so that a small number of the enemy would suffice to crush a large body of our men: this is hemmed in ground. tweet

10. Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by fighting without delay, is desperate ground. tweet

11. On dispersive ground, therefore, fight not. On facile ground, halt not. On contentious ground, attack not. tweet

12. On open ground, do not try to block the enemy's way. On the ground of intersecting highways, join hands with your allies. tweet

13. On serious ground, gather in plunder. In difficult ground, keep steadily on the march. tweet

14. On hemmed-in ground, resort to stratagem. On desperate ground, fight. tweet

15. Those who were called skillful leaders of old knew how to drive a wedge between the enemy's front and rear; to prevent co-operation between his large and small divisions; to hinder the good troops from rescuing the bad, the officers from rallying their men. tweet

16. When the enemy's men were united, they managed to keep them in disorder. tweet

17. When it was to their advantage, they made a forward move; when otherwise, they stopped still. tweet

18. If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack, I should say: "Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will." tweet

19. Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots. tweet

20. The following are the principles to be observed by an invading force: The further you penetrate into a country, the greater will be the solidarity of your troops, and thus the defenders will not prevail against you. tweet

21. Make forays in fertile country in order to supply your army with food. tweet

22. Carefully study the well-being of your men, and do not overtax them. Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength. Keep your army continually on the move, and devise unfathomable plans. tweet

23. Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength. tweet

24. Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. If they are in hostile country, they will show a stubborn front. If there is no help for it, they will fight hard. tweet

25. Thus, without waiting to be marshaled, the soldiers will be constantly on the qui vive; without waiting to be asked, they will do your will; without restrictions, they will be faithful; without giving orders, they can be trusted. tweet

26. Prohibit the taking of omens, and do away with superstitious doubts. Then, until death itself comes, no calamity need be feared. tweet

27. If our soldiers are not overburdened with money, it is not because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not unduly long, it is not because they are disinclined to longevity. tweet

28. On the day they are ordered out to battle, your soldiers may weep, those sitting up bedewing their garments, and those lying down letting the tears run down their cheeks. But let them once be brought to bay, and they will display the courage of a Chu or a Kuei. tweet

29. The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the ChUng mountains. Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both. tweet

30. Asked if an army can be made to imitate the shuai-jan, I should answer, Yes. For the men of Wu and the men of Yueh are enemies; yet if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come to each other's assistance just as the left hand helps the right. tweet

31. Hence it is not enough to put one's trust in the tethering of horses, and the burying of chariot wheels in the ground tweet

32. The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach. tweet

33. How to make the best of both strong and weak--that is a question involving the proper use of ground. tweet

34. Thus the skillful general conducts his army just as though he were leading a single man, willy-nilly, by the hand. tweet

35. It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order. tweet

36. He must be able to mystify his officers and men by false reports and appearances, and thus keep them in total ignorance. tweet

37. By altering his arrangements and changing his plans, he keeps the enemy without definite knowledge. By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes, he prevents the enemy from anticipating his purpose. tweet

38. At the critical moment, the leader of an army acts like one who has climbed up a height and then kicks away the ladder behind him. He carries his men deep into hostile territory before he shows his hand. tweet

39. He burns his boats and breaks his cooking-pots; like a shepherd driving a flock of sheep, he drives his men this way and that, and nothing knows whither he is going. tweet

40. To muster his host and bring it into danger:--this may be termed the business of the general. tweet

41. The different measures suited to the nine varieties of ground; the expediency of aggressive or defensive tactics; and the fundamental laws of human nature: these are things that must most certainly be studied. tweet

42. When invading hostile territory, the general principle is, that penetrating deeply brings cohesion; penetrating but a short way means dispersion. tweet

43. When you leave your own country behind, and take your army across neighborhood territory, you find yourself on critical ground. When there are means of communication on all four sides, the ground is one of intersecting highways. tweet

44. When you penetrate deeply into a country, it is serious ground. When you penetrate but a little way, it is facile ground. tweet

45. When you have the enemy's strongholds on your rear, and narrow passes in front, it is hemmed-in ground. When there is no place of refuge at all, it is desperate ground. tweet

46. Therefore, on dispersive ground, I would inspire my men with unity of purpose. On facile ground, I would see that there is close connection between all parts of my army. tweet

47. On contentious ground, I would hurry up my rear. tweet

48. On open ground, I would keep a vigilant eye on my defenses. On ground of intersecting highways, I would consolidate my alliances. tweet

49. On serious ground, I would try to ensure a continuous stream of supplies. On difficult ground, I would keep pushing on along the road. tweet

50. On hemmed-in ground, I would block any way of retreat. On desperate ground, I would proclaim to my soldiers the hopelessness of saving their lives. tweet

51. For it is the soldier's disposition to offer an obstinate resistance when surrounded, to fight hard when he cannot help himself, and to obey promptly when he has fallen into danger. tweet

52. We cannot enter into alliance with neighboring princes until we are acquainted with their designs. We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country--its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps. We shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account unless we make use of local guides. tweet

53. To be ignored of any one of the following four or five principles does not befit a warlike prince. tweet

54. When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state, his generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy's forces. He overawes his opponents, and their allies are prevented from joining against him. tweet

55. Hence he does not strive to ally himself with all and sundry, nor does he foster the power of other states. He carries out his own secret designs, keeping his antagonists in awe. Thus he is able to capture their cities and overthrow their kingdoms. tweet

56. Bestow rewards without regard to rule, issue orders without regard to previous arrangements; and you will be able to handle a whole army as though you had to do with but a single man. tweet

57. Confront your soldiers with the deed itself; never let them know your design. When the outlook is bright, bring it before their eyes; but tell them nothing when the situation is gloomy. tweet

58. Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive; plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety. tweet

59. For it is precisely when a force has fallen into harm's way that is capable of striking a blow for victory. tweet

60. Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose. tweet

61. By persistently hanging on the enemy's flank, we shall succeed in the long run in killing the commander-in-chief. tweet

62. This is called ability to accomplish a thing by sheer cunning. tweet

63. On the day that you take up your command, block the frontier passes, destroy the official tallies, and stop the passage of all emissaries. tweet

64. Be stern in the council-chamber, so that you may control the situation. tweet

65. If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in. tweet

66. Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear, and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground. tweet

67. Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle. tweet

68. At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you. tweet

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