The best strategy in warfare is to capture an enemy country whole and intact without having to resort to arms. To conquer it by force is the second best way.
Likewise, to capture an enemy army (12,500 men) in its entirety is better than to destroy it in battle; it is better to capture entire regiments (each 500 men), brigades (each 150 men), or companies (each 5 men) than to be forced to destroy them.
Therefore, supreme excellence does not lie in winning one hundred victories in one hundred battles but in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
The Three Methods
Accordingly, the best way in directing military operations is to defeat the enemy through strategic superiority, the second best way is to defeat the enemy through diplomatic means; the next best method is resorting to arms to conquer the enemy army, and it is always the least desirable method to besiege a fortified city.
The Worst Method - Besiege A Fortified City.Laying siege to city is an option taken when there are no other alternatives. It takes at least three months to make large shields and four-wheeled chariots and prepare necessary weapons and equipments. It takes at least another three months to build the mounds for the attack. It is time consuming and strenuous.
The commander will thus become so impatient and reckless that he will order his soldiers to swarm up the walls like ants to attack the city. Consequently, one third of the soldiers will be killed or injured while the city remains unconquered. Such is the kind of disaster that results from the siege of a city.
The Best Method - Victory Without CasualtiesA commander who is well versed in directing military operations will force the enemy army to surrender without resorting to arms.
He will capture the enemy city without engaging his army in a tough battle. He will also overthrow the enemy country without going through a long , drawn-out attack.
One should contend for supremacy through strategy of capturing the enemy country and enemy army whole and intact. Thus, the army will not be weary and frustrated and complete victory will be achieved.
This is to defeat the enemy through strategic superiority.
Directing Military OperationsIn directing military operations, one should encircle the enemy when one's military strength is ten times as strong as the enemy's;
attack when one's army is five times as big as the enemy's;
try to disperse the enemy forces when one has twice as many soldiers as the enemy;
employ the art of war wisely to defeat the enemy when both sides are equal in strength;
be capable of making retreat when the enemy force are greater in number;
avoid a decisive battle with the enemy when one's conditions are unfavourable in all respects.
A weak army will eventually fall captive to a strong one if it simply holds its ground and conducts a desperate defence.
Harm That Soveregin Might CauseA commander is an assistant of the sovereign. If he provides competent and consistent assistance, the country will grow powerful and prosperous; otherwise, it will definitely be weakened.
The sovereign may do harm to the army under the following three circumstances :
One is order to advance while ignoring the fact that the army cannot go forward, or by ordering a retreat while ignorant the fact the that the army cannot fall back.
Second, by interfering with the army's administration without any knowledge of its internal affairs. This will caused confusion in both the officers and the soldiers.
Third is by becoming involved in the command structure during military operations while ignorant of military principle of authourity. This will sow doubts and misgiving in the minds of the officers and soldiers.
With the army irresolute and in discord, disasters are sure to follow when the enemy countries take advantage of the situations to make an attack. This is called plunging one's army into confusion and results in the enemy's victory.
Forecast Of Battle OutcomeThe following five points are essential to foresee the outcome of war :
- The one who knows under what circumstances he should or should not fight will win;
- The one who knows how to employ different tactics according to his military strength will win;
- The country whose sovereign and people and army are of one mind will win;
- The one who has made adequate preparations will defeat the other without preparations;
- The commander who is competent and unrestrained by the sovereign will win;
Accordingly, knowing the enemy and knowing ourselves, one can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat; while knowing only ourselves but not your enemy will guarantee only half a chance of winning the battle; and knowing neither ourselves nor the enemy well; will definitely lose all the battles !