X. THE BATTLE GROUND
The words of Sun Tzu Wu the Master:
1. With regard to the different natures of ground there are: open ground; broken ground; suspended ground; defiles; precipices; far countries.
1.1 Open ground is that where either side has liberty of movement. Be quick to occupy any high ground in the neighbourhood and consider well the line of supplies.
1.2 Broken ground is that where advance is easy, but retreat from it is difficult. Here, if the enemy be not prepared, we may win: but should he be prepared, and defeat us, and retreat be impossible, then there is disaster.
1.3 Suspended ground is where the side that takes the initiative is under a disadvantage. Here, if the enemy offer some allurement, we should not advance: but rather, by feigning retreat, wait until he has put forth half his force. Then we may attack him with advantage.
1.4 Defiles, make haste to occupy; garrison strongly and await the enemy. Should the enemy be before you, and in strength, do not engage him; but if there be unoccupied points, attack him.
1.5 In precipitous ground, quickly occupy a position on a sunny height, and await the enemy. If the enemy be before you, withdraw and do not attack him.
1.6 If distant from the enemy, and the forces be equal, to take the initiative is disadvantageous.
1.7 Now, these are the six kinds of ground. It is the duty of generals to study them.
2. Again, there are six calamities among the troops, arising, not from defect of ground, or lack of opportunity, but from the general’s incapacity. These are: repulse, relaxation, distress, disorganization, confusion and rout.
2.1 If troops be sent to attack an enemy of equal quality, but ten times their number, they retire discomfited.
2.2 Strong soldiers with weak officers, cause relaxation.
2.3 Able officers with feeble soldiers cause distress.
2.4 Enraged senior officers, who fall upon the enemy without orders, and obey not the general because he does not recognise their abilities, produce disorganization.
2.5 Weak and amiable generals, whose directions and leadership are vague, whose officers’ and men’s duties are not fixed, and whose dispositions are contradictory, produce confusion.
2.6 Generals, who are unable to estimate the enemy, who oppose small numbers to large, weakness to strength, and who do not put picked men in the van of the army, cause it to be routed.
2.7 These six things lead to defeat. It is the duty of the general to study them carefully.
3. Ground is the handmaid of victory.
4. Ability to estimate the enemy, and plan the victory; an eye for steepness, command and distances: these are the qualities of the good general.
5. Whosoever knows these things, conquers; he who understands them not, is defeated.
6. If victory be certain from the military standpoint, fight, even if the Prince forbid.
7. If defeat be certain from the military standpoint, do not fight, even though the Prince commands it.
8. The general who advances, from no thought of his own glory, or retires, regardless of punishment; but only strives for the people’s welfare, and his lord’s advantage, is a treasure to the state.
9. The good general cares for his soldiers, and lovingly treats them as his children; as a consequence they follow him through deep valleys, and are beside him even unto death.
10. Nevertheless, over-care for the soldiers may cause disobedience; over-attention may make them unserviceable; over-indulgence may produce disorder: they become like spoiled children, and cannot be used.
11. He who is confident of his own men, but is ignorant that the enemy should not be attacked, has no certainty of victory.
12. He who knows that the enemy may be attacked with advantage, but knows not his own men, has no certainty of victory.
13. Confidence in the troops, right judgment when to attack the enemy, but ignorance of the ground, brings uncertain victory.
14. The wise soldier, once in motion, does not waver, and is never at a loss.
15. As has been said: “Know thyself; know the enemy; fear not for victory.”
16. Also, if the season and the opportunity be realized, and the ground known, complete victory is certain.