This article is the twelfth part of Sun Tzu "The Art of War" with a title of Fire Attack. Enjoy your read.
There are five kinds of fire attack; burning people, burning supplies, burning equipment, burning store-houses, and burning weapons.
The use of fire must have a basis, and requires certain tools. There are appropriate times for setting fires, namely when the weather is dry and windy.
Generally, in fire attacks it is imperative to follow up on the crises causes by the fires. When fire is set inside an enemy camp, then respond quickly from outside. If the soldiers are calm when fire breaks out, wait - do not attack. When the fire reaches the height of its power, follow up if possible, hold back if not.
When fire can be set out in the open, do not wait until it can be set inside a camp - set it when the time is right.
When fire is set upwind, do not attack downwind.
If it is windy during the day, the wind will stop at night.
Armies must know there are adaptations of the five kinds of fire attack, and adhere to them scientifically.
So the use of fire to help an attack means clarity, use of water to help at attack means strength. Water can cut off, but can not plunder.
To win in battle or make a successful siege without rewarding the meritorious is unlucky and earns the name of stinginess. Therefore it is said that an enlightened government considers this, and good military leadership rewards merit. They do not mobilize when there is no advantage, do not act when there is nothing to gain, do not fight when there is no danger.
A government should not mobilize an army out of anger, military leaders should not provoke war out of wrath. Act when it is beneficial, desist if it is not. Anger can revert to joy, wrath can revert to delight, but a nation destroyed can not be restored to existence, and the dead can not be restored to life. Therefore an enlightened government is careful about this, a good military leadership is alert to this. This is the way to secure a nation and keep the armed forces whole.
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