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The Art of War
Sun Tzu

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Army Maneuvers

CHAPTER SUMMARY (9.01-9.46): Contending with Difficult Terrain and Deceptive Enemies
Your troops may need to 1) cross a mountain, 2) stick to high ground, 3) split in two because of a river, 3) fight on swampy wetlands, or 4) fight on level ground that exposes them to attack from different sides. There are ways your army can protect itself and gain the advantage in all these cases and in other, more ordinary ones. First, avoid certain types of terrain altogether, so they don't sap your strength. Observe enemy troops closely, especially on difficult terrain that can cloak their movements. Strive to detect your enemy's reason for a particular action—is it to hide or distract you from some other action? Notice changes in the environment that may reveal the true motive. Also, study your opponent's demeanor. Notice if a normally self-contained general explodes emotionally. Is the outburst due to unendurable hardships on your opponent's side? Can you use this weakness to your advantage? Notice if your enemy's troops have depleted their supplies, or if their general too easily doles out rewards and punishments to followers. Such excesses may alienate your opponent's allies, whom you can then convert to your side. Earn the trust of your own troops and their acceptance of your discipline by genuinely caring for their welfare, without being overly controlling. Lastly, be consistent; apply the same rules to yourself that you apply to them.


[9.01] Generally, on positioning the army and observing the enemy: To cross mountains, stay close to the valleys; observe on high ground and face the sunny side.* If the enemy holds the high ground, do not ascend and do battle with him. This is positioning the army in the mountains. 

[9.02] After crossing a river, you must stay far away from it. If the enemy crosses a river, do not meet him in the water. When half of his forces has crossed,* it will then be advantageous to strike.

[9.03] If you want to do battle with the enemy, do not position your forces near the water facing the enemy; take high ground facing the sunny side, and do not position downstream. This is positioning the army near rivers. 

[9.04] After crossing swamps and wetlands, strive to quickly get through them, and do not linger. If you do battle in swamps and wetlands, you must position close to grass, with the trees to your back. This is positioning the army in swamps and wetlands. 

[9.05] On level ground, position on places that are easy to maneuver with your right backed by high ground, with the dangerous ground in front, and safe ground to the back. This is positioning the army on level ground. 

[9.06] These are the four positions advantageous to the army, which enabled the Yellow Emperor* to conquer four rulers. 

[9.07] Generally, the army prefers high ground and dislikes low ground, values the sunny side and despises the shady side, nourishes its health and occupies places with resources, and avoids numerous sicknesses. These factors mean certain victory. 

[9.08] Where there are hills and embankments, you must position on the sunny side, with the hills and embankments to your right back. 

[9.09] These are advantages to the army. 

[9.10] Use the ground for assistance.* 



9.01 face the sunny side. Face the sunlit, downward slope. Position your troops in this direction for a clear view of the enemy and to protect themselves.
9.02 It will then be advantageous to strike. Only part of the enemy's troops has emerged from the water, so you'll be attacking a reduced (i.e., weaker) force.
9.06 the Yellow Emperor. Legend has it that the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di (ruled 2697-2597 BCE), inventor of the martial arts, defeated emperors to the south, east, west and north, even on difficult terrain, because he made use of the advantages to his troops on any terrain.
9.10 Use the ground for assistance. Identify the pluses on any terrain and use them to your advantage. Are there hills and embankments? Use them to elevate your army and protect it (as suggested in 9.08 above).

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