This article is the ninth part of Sun Tzu "The Art of War" with a title of Maneuvering Armies. Enjoy your read.
Whenever you station an army to observe an opponent, cut off the mountains and stay by the valleys.
Watch the light, stay on the heights. When fighting on a hill, do not climb. This applies to an army in the mountains.
When cut off by water, always stay away from the water. Do not meet them in the water; it is advantageous to let half of them cross and then attack them.
When you want to fight, do not face an enemy near water. Watch the light, stay in high places, do not face the current of the water. This applies to an army on water.
Go right through salt marshes, just go quickly and do not tarry. If you run into an army in the middle of a salt marsh, stay by the water plants, with your back to the trees. This applies to an army in a salt marsh.
On a level plateau, take up positions where it is easy to maneuver, keeping higher land to your right rear, with low ground in front and high ground behind. This applies to an army on a plateau.
It was by taking advantage of the situation in these four basic ways that the Yellow Emperor overcome four lords.
Ordinarily, an army likes high places and dislikes low ground, values light and despises darkness.
Take care of physical health and stay where there are plenty of resources. When there is no sickness in the army, it is said to be invincible.
Where there are hills or embankments keep on their sunny side, with them to your right rear. This is an advantage to a military force, the help of the land.
When it rains upstream and froth is coming down on the current, if you want to cross, wait until it settles.
Whenever the terrain has impassable ravines, natural enclosures, natural prisons, natural traps, natural pitfalls, and natural clefts, you should leave quickly and not get near them. For myself, I keep away from these, so that opponents are nearer to them; I keep my face to these so that opponents have their backs to them.
When an army is traveling, if there is hilly territory with many streams and ponds or depressions overgrown with reeds, or wild forests with a luxuriant growth of plants and trees, it is imperative to search them carefully and thoroughly. For these afford stations for bushwhackers and spoilers.
When the enemy is near but still, he is resting on a natural strong-hold. When he is far away but tries to provoke hostilities, he wants you to move forward. If his position is accessible, it is because that is advantageous to him.
When the trees move, the enemy is coming; when there are many blinds in the undergrowth, it is misdirection.
If birds start up, there are ambushers there. If the animals are frightened, there are attackers there. If dust rises high and sharp, vehicles are coming; if it is low and wide, footsoldiers are coming. Scattered wisp of smoke indicate woodcutters. Relatively small amounts of dust coming and going indicate setting up camp.
Those whose words are humble while they increase war preparations are going to advance. Those whose words are strong and who advance aggressively are going to retreat.
When light vehicles come out first and stay to the sides, they are going to set up a battle line.
Those who come seeking peace without a treaty are plotting.
Those who busily set out arrays of armed vehicles are expecting reinforcements.
If half their force advances and half retreats, they are trying to lure you.
If they brace themselves as they stand, they are starving. When those sent to draw water first drink themselves, they are thirsty.
When they see an advantage but do not advance on it, they are weary.
If birds are gathered there, the place has been vacated.
If there are calls in the night, they are afraid.
If the army is unsettled, it means the General is not taken seriously.
If signals move, that means they are in confusion.
If their emissaries are irritable, it means they are tired.
When they kill their horses for meat, it means that the soldiers have no food; when they have no pots and do not go back to their quarters, they are desperate adversaries.
When there are murmurings, lapses in duties, and extended conversations, the loyalty of the group has been lost.
When they give out numerous rewards, it means they are at an impasse; when they give out numerous punishments, it means they are worn out.
To be violent at first and wind up fearing one's people is the epitome of ineptitude.
Those who come in a conciliatory manner want to rest.
When forces angrily confront you but delay engagement, yet do not leave, it is imperative to watch them carefully.
In military matters it is not necessarily beneficial to have more strength, only to avoid acting aggressively; it is enough to consolidate your power, assess opponents, and get people, that is all.
The individualist without strategy who take opponents lightly will inevitably become the captive of others.
If soldiers are punished before a personal attachment to the leadership is formed, they will not submit, and if they do not submit they are hard to employ.
If punishment are not executed after personal attachment has been established with the soldiers, then they can not be employed.
Therefore direct them through cultural arts, unify them through martial arts; this means certain victory.
When directives are consistently carried out to edify the populace, the populace accepts. When directives are not consistently carried out to edify the populace, the populace does not accept. When directives are consistently carried out, there is mutual satisfaction between the leadership and the group.
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