XII. ASSAULT BY FIRE
The words of Sun Tzu Wu the Master:
There are five ways of attack by fire:
The first is called barrack burning; the second, commissariat burning; the third, equipment burning; the fourth, store burning; the fifth, the company burning.
The moment for the fire assault must be suitable. Further, appliances must always be kept at hand.
There is a time and day proper for the setting and carrying out of the fire assault; namely: such time as the weather is dry; and a day when the moon is in the quarters of the stars Chi, Pi, I, Chen: for these are days of wind.
Regard well the developments that will certainly arise from the fire, and act upon them. When fire breaks out inside the enemy’s camp, thrust upon him with all speed from without; but if his soldiers be quiet, wait, and do not attack.
When the fire is at its height, attack or not, as opportunity may arise.
If the opportunity be favourable, set fire to the enemy’s camp, and do not wait for it to break out from within.
When fire breaks out on the windward side, do not attack from the leeward.
Wind that rises in the day lasts long. Wind that rises in the nighttime quickly passes.
The peculiarities of the five burnings must be known, and the calendar studied, and, if the attack is to be assisted, the fire must be unquenchable.
If water is to assist the attack, the flood must be overwhelming.
Water may isolate or divide the enemy; fire may consume his camp; but unless victory or possession be obtained, the enemy quickly recovers, and misfortunes arise. The war drags on, and money is spent.
Let the enlightened lord consider well; and the good general keep the main object in view. If no advantage is to be gained thereby, do not move; without prospect of victory, do not use the soldiers; do not fight unless the state be in danger.
War should not be undertaken because the lord is in a moment of
passion. The general must not fight because there is anger in his heart.
Do not make war unless victory may be gained thereby; if there be prospect of victory, move; if there be no prospect, do not move.
For passion may change to gladness, anger passes; but a country, once overturned, cannot be restored; the dead cannot be brought to life.
Wherefore it is written, the enlightened lord is circumspect, and the good general takes heed; then is the state secure, and the army victorious in battle.