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The Art of War
Sun Tzu

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Ground Formation

CHAPTER SUMMARY (10.01-10.24): Adapting to the Environment and Preventing Defeat
Identify the advantages of the physical ground your soldiers occupy. Know its dangers. Consider six grounds in relation to their effects on your troops (listed here and defined in the chart below): 1) accessible, 2) entrapping, 3) stalemated, 4) narrow, 5) steep, and 6) expansive, or wide open. Examine the ground to determine its advantages and dangers. Then consider the six situations of defeat: flight, insubordination, deterioration, collapse, chaos, and setback. They lie within a general's control, arise from faults of the general: 1) In fighting an equal force, is the general inspiring flight or desertion by pitting of the general's soldiers against ten of the enemy's? 2) Are the rank-and-file demonstrating insubordination? 3) Is the general experiencing personal deterioration? Is the general's strength diminishing because of a failure to ask others for help? 4) Has the general's control over the officers, or lieutenants, collapsed? 5) Have the above four factors converged to create chaos (e.g., Is the army's formation in disarray?) 6) Has the general caused a setback? Was a smaller force sent to fight a larger one and sent without a vanguard (hand-picked front line of soldiers to lead the fight)? A superior general calculates the enemy, creates conditions for victory, and addresses prospective dangers. To ensure victory, the general assesses weather and terrain (Heaven and Ground) and adheres to the Way (unifying, higher moral purpose for the fight).


[10.01] The grounds are accessible, entrapping, stalemated, narrow, steep, and expansive.* If you can go through but the enemy cannot, it is called accessible. 

[10.02] For accessible ground, first take the high and the sunny side, and convenient supply routes. You then do battle with the advantage. 

[10.03] If you can go through but it is difficult to go back, it is called entrapping. For entrapping ground, if the enemy is unprepared, advance and defeat him.

[10.04] If the enemy is prepared, and you advance and are not victorious, it will be difficult to go back; this is disadvantageous. 

[10.05] If it is not advantageous to advance or for the enemy to advance, it is called stalemated. For stalemated ground, though the enemy offers you advantage, do not advance. Withdraw. 

[10.06] If you strike them when half has advanced, this is advantageous.

[10.07] For narrow ground,* we must occupy it first; be prepared and wait for the enemy. If the enemy occupies it first, and is prepared, do not follow him. If he is not prepared, follow him. 

[10.08] For steep ground, if you occupy it first, occupy the high on the sunny side and wait for the enemy. If the enemy occupies it first, withdraw; do not follow him.

[10.9] For expansive [wide open] ground, if the forces are equal, it will be difficult to do battle. Doing battle will not be advantageous. These are the six Ways of ground. They are the general's responsibility, and must be examined. 



10.01 Six types of ground:

Accessible ground Easily passable for your army to high ground
Entrapping ground Difficult for your army to exit
Stalemated ground Difficult for both sides to move forward
Narrow ground Too narrow for both armies at once
High ground Advantageous for the first army to arrive
Wide-open ground No advantage to either side

10.07 narrow ground. If your army is weaker, have it occupy narrow ground to force the enemy to split its force.
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