Normally in war, the generals receive commands from the sovereign, then recruit the soldiers and assemble the army.The following points are for attention.
The army should not camp in inaccessible areas such as mountains and forests, dangerous areas with many obstacles and marshes.
In an area where highways radiate in all directions, the army must rely on its allies.
The army cannot stay too long in isolated areas where there is no water and grass.
When an army is caught in a dilemma or in an area easily surrounded one should work out brilliant tactics.
Once trapped in a fatal position, one should put up a desperate fight.
Things That Cannot DoThere are some roads that one should not follow, some enemy armies that one should not assault, some fortified cities that one should not attack and occupy, some places that one should not fight for.
If contrary to these principles and detrimental to one's military operation, some commands from the sovereign need not be obeyed.
The GeneralA general who is well-versed in making use of the advantages of the nine variable factors will be considered able to direct military operations.
A general who does not know how to apply the nine variable factors, though acquainted with the terrain, will not be able to exploit the topographical advantages.
A general who does not understand how to apply all the nine variable factors will not be able to make the best of the army, even though he may have grasped, say, five of them.
A wise commander always gives consideration not only to favourable factors but also to unfavourable ones.
By taking into account possible misfortunes in favourable conditions, everything can be carried out smoothly.Similarly, by taking into accounts possible advantages in unfavorable situations, one might extricate oneself from misfortune.
Military OperationsTo prevent the chieftains of the neighbouring countries from carrying out military plans smoothly, harass them with what they fear most; to make them exhausted, trouble them with difficulties which they have to deal with; to reduce them to a passive position, lure them with advantages.
In war one should not place all hope in the possibility that the enemy will not come, but rather make through preparations to wait for his coming.Nor should one place in the possibility that the enemy will not attack, but rather make oneself invincible to attack.
Five Faults Of GeneralTherefore, there are five dangerous faults which may affect a commander:
bravery without discretion, which will lead one to be easily lured and then killed;
cowardice, which will make one afraid of death and easily cause one to be captured;
a hot temper, which will provoke one into acting recklessly after being insulted by the enemy;
too much concern about honour, which will make one too sensitive to slanders;
and too much concern for his men, which may expose him to be perplexed by the enemy for the sake of relieving his men.
The above five extreme natures are common flaws of commanders, and are disastrous to military operations.
The ruin of entire armies and the deaths of their commanders are normally caused by these five fatal flaws. Every commander must seriously take heed of them.