situational positioning – chapter 10 – the art of war

The Art of War

Chapter 10

Situational Positioning

The grounds are:
  • Accessible
  • Entrapping
  • Stalemated
  • Narrow
  • Steep
  • Expansive

If you can go through but the enemy cannot, it is called accessible. For accessible ground, first take the high and the sunny side, and convenient supply routes. You then do battle with the advantage.

If you can go through but difficult to go back, it is called entrapping. For entrapping ground, if the enemy is unprepared, advance and defeat him. If the enemy is prepared, and you advance and are not victorious, it will be difficult to go back; this is disadvantageous.

If it is not advantageous to advance or for the enemy to advance, it is called stalemated. For stalemated ground, though the enemy offers you advantage, do not advance. Withdraw. If you strike them when half has advanced, this is advantageous.

For narrow ground, we must occupy it first; be prepared and wait for the enemy. If the enemy occupies it first, and is prepared, do not follow him. If he is not prepared, follow him.

For steep ground, if you occupy it first, occupy the high on the sunny side and wait for the enemy. If the enemy occupies it first, withdraw; do not follow him.

For expansive ground, if the forces are equal, it will be difficult to do battle. Doing battle will not be advantageous.

These are the six Ways of ground. They are the general’s responsibility, and must be examined.

In warfare, there are:
  • Flight
  • Insubordination
  • Deterioration
  • Collapse
  • Chaos
  • Setback.

These six situations are not caused by Heaven or Ground, but by the general.

  • If the forces are equal, and one attacks ten, this is called flight.
  • If the troops are strong but the officers weak, this is called insubordination.
  • If the officers are strong but the troops weak, this is called deterioration.
  • If the officers are angry and insubordinate, doing battle with the enemy under anger and insubordination, and the general does not know their abilities, this is called collapse.
  • If the general is weak and not disciplined, his instructions not clear, the officers and troops lack discipline and their formation in disarray, this is called chaos.
  • If the general cannot calculate his enemy, and uses a small number against a large number, his weak attacking the strong, and has no selected vanguard, this is called setback.

These are the six Ways of defeat. They are the general’s responsibility, and must be examined.

Formations of the ground assist the army. To calculate the enemy, create conditions leading to victory, calculating the dangers and distances.

They are the Ways of the superior general. Those who do battle and know these are certain for victory. Those who do battle and do not know these are certain for defeat. Therefore, if the Way of warfare indicates certain victory, though the ruler does not want to do battle, the general may do battle. If the Way of warfare indicates defeat, though the ruler wants to do battle, the general may not do battle.

Therefore, the general who does not advance to seek glory, or does not withdraw to avoid punishment, but cares for only the people’s security and promotes the people’s interests, is the nation’s treasure. He looks upon his troops as children, and they will advance to the deepest valleys. He looks upon his troops as his own children, and they will die with him.

If the general is kind to the troops, but cannot use them, or if the general loves the troops, but cannot command them, or if the general does not discipline the troops, but cannot establish order, the troops are like spoiled children and are useless.

If I know the troops can attack, but do not know the enemy cannot attack, my victory is half. If I know the enemy can be attacked, but do not know the troops cannot attack, my victory is half. If I know the enemy can be attacked, and know the troops can attack, but do not know the ground in battle, my victory is half.

Therefore, one who knows how to advance the army is limitless when taking action. Therefore I say, if you know the enemy and know yourself, the victory is not at risk.

If you know the Heaven and you know the Ground, the victory is complete.


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