When you do battle, even if you
are winning, if you continue for a
long time it will dull your forces
and blunt your edge; if you besiege
a citadel, your strength will be exhausted.
If you keep your armies
out in the field for a long time,
your supplies will be insufficient.
When your forces are dulled, your
edge is blunted, your strength is
exhausted, and your supplies are
gone, then others will take advantage
of your debility and rise up.
Then even if you have wise advisers
you cannot make things turn
out well in the end.
Therefore I have heard of military
operations that were clumsy but
swift, but I have never seen one
that was skillful and lasted a long
time. It is never beneficial to a nation
to have a military operation
continue for a long time.
Therefore, those who are not thoroughly
aware of the disadvantages
in the use of arms cannot be thoroughly
aware of the disadvantages in
the use of arms.
Those who use the military skillfully
do not raise troops twice and
do not provide food three times.
By taking equipment from your
own country but feeding off the
enemy you can be sufficient in
both arms and provisions.
When a country is impoverished
by military operations, it is because
of transporting supplies to a
distant place. Transport supplies
to a distant place, and the populace
will be impoverished.
Those who are near the enemy sell
at high prices. Because of high
prices, the wealth of the common
people is exhausted.
When resources are exhausted,
the levies are made under pressure.
When power and resources
are exhausted, then the homeland
is drained. The common people
are deprived of seventy percent of
their budget, while the government's
expenses for equipment
amount to sixty percent of its budget.
Therefore a wise general strives to
feed off the enemy. Each pound of
food taken from the enemy is
equivalent to twenty pounds you
provide by yourself.
So what kills the enemy is anger,
what gets the enemy's goods is reward.
Therefore, in a chariot battle, reward
the first to capture at least ten chariots.
Change their colors, use them
mixed in with your own. Treat the
soldiers well, take care of them.
This is called overcoming the opponent
and increasing your strength to boot.
So the important thing in a military
operation is victory, not persistence.
Hence, we know that the leader of
the army is in charge of the lives
of the people and safety of the nation.