The ordinary rule for use of military
force is for the military command
to receive the orders from
the civilian authorities, then to
gather and mass the troops, quartering
them together. Nothing is
harder than armed struggle.
The difficulty of armed struggle is
to make long distances near and
make problems into advantages.
Therefore you make their route a
long one, luring them on in hopes
of gain. When you set out after
others and arrive before them, you
know the strategy of making the
Therefore armed struggle is
considered profitable, and armed
struggle is considered dangerous.
To mobilize the whole army to
struggle for advantage would take
too long, yet to struggle for advantage
with a stripped-down army
results in a lack of equipment.
So if you travel light, not stopping
day or night, doubling your
usual pace, struggling for an
advantage a hundred miles away,
your military leaders will be
captured. Strong soldiers will get
their first, the weary later on -- as
a rule, one in ten make it.
Struggling for an advantage fifty
miles away will thwart the forward
leadership, and as a rule only fifty
percent of the soldiers make it.
Struggle for an advantage thirty
miles away, and two out of three
So an army perishes if it has
no equipment, it perishes if it
has no food, and it perishes if
it has no money.
So if you do not know the plans of
your competitors, you cannot
make informed alliances.
Unless you know the mountains
and forests, the defiles and
impasses, and the lay of the marshes
and swamps, you cannot maneuver
with an armed force. Unless you
use local guides, you cannot get
the advantage of the land.
So a military force is established
by deception, mobilized by gain,
and adapted by division and combination.
Therefore when it moves swiftly it
is like the wind, when it goes
slowly it is like a forest; it is rapacious
as fire, immovable as mountains.
It is as hard to know as the dark;
its movement is like pealing thunder.
To plunder a locality, divide up
your troops. To expand your
territory, divide the spoils.
Act after having made assessments.
The one who first knows the measures
of how far and near wins -- this is
the rule of armed struggle.
An ancient book of military order
says, "Words are not heard, so
cymbals and drums are made.
Owing to lack of visibility, banners
and flags are made." Cymbals,
drums, banners and flags are used
to focus and unify people's ears
and eyes. Once people are unified,
the brave cannot proceed alone,
the timid cannot retreat alone --
this is the rule for employing a group.
So in night battles, you use many
fires and drums, in daytime battles
you use many banners and flags, so
as to manipulate people's ears and eyes.
So you shoudl take away the energy
of their armies, and take away
the heart of their generals.
So morning energy is keen,
mid-day energy slumps, evening energy
recedes -- therefore those skilled in
use of arms avoid the keen energy
and strike the slumping and receding.
These are those that master energy.
Using order to deal with the
disorderly, using calm to deal with
the clamorous, is mastering the heart.
Standing your ground awaiting
those far away, awaiting the weary
in comfort, awaiting the hungry
with full stomachs, is mastering strength.
Avoiding confrontation with
orderly ranks and not attacking
great formations is mastering adaptation.
So the rule for military operations
is not to face a high hill and not to
oppose those with their backs to a hill.
Do not follow a feigned retreat.
Do not attack crack troops.
Do not eat food for their soldiers.
Do not stop an army on its way home.
A surrounded army must be given a way out.
Do not press a desperate enemy.
These are the rules of military operations.