The general rule for military
operations is that the military
leadership receives the order from
the civilian leadership to gather armies.
Let there be no encampment on
difficult terrain. Let diplomatic
relations be established at borders.
Do not stay in barren or isolated territory.
When on surrounded ground, plot.
When on deadly ground, fight.
There are routes not to be
followed, armies not to be attacked,
citadels not to be besieged, territory
not to be fought over, orders
of civilian governments not to be obeyed.
Therefore generals who know all
possible adaptations to take
advantage of the ground know how
to use military forces. If generals
do not know how to adapt
advantageously, even if they know the
lay of the land they cannot take
advantage of it.
If they rule armies without
knowing the arts of complete
adaptivity, even if they know what
there is to gain, they cannot get
people to work for them.
Therefore the considerations of
the intelligent always include both
benefit and harm. As they consider
benefit, their work can expand; as
they consider harm, their troubles
can be resolved.
Therefore what restrains competitors
is harm, what keeps competitors
busy is work, what motivates
competitors is profit.
So the rule of military operations
is not to count on opponents not
coming, but to rely on having ways
of dealing with them; not to count
on opponents not attacking, but to
rely on having what cannot be attacked.
Therefore, there are five traits that
are dangerous in generals. Those
who are ready to die can be killed;
those who are intent on living can
be captured; those who are quick
to anger can be shamed; those who
are puritanical can be disgraced;
those who love people can be troubled.
These five things are faults in generals,
disasters for military operations.