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The Art of War
Sun Tzu

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Doing Battle


CHAPTER SUMMARY (2.01-2.19): Conserving Resources and Managing People
Combat should be a last resort, due to the heavy toll it exacts. If battle is inevitable, follow these principles: Calculate costs and make the fight swift. Get enough information on the enemy from guests (outside friends, allies, advisors) to make it possible for you to conserve your resources. Be willing to spend the required resources, but strive not to exhaust your resources. Prosecute the conflict quickly to minimize your losses, in resources and the morale of your troops. Practice battle readiness at all times. Try to feed your army from the bounty of enemy land and to co-opt your adversary's skills, technologies, people. Do not, however, plunder enemy civilians; respect their property and pay for their goods to incur their good will. And commend your own best soldiers on their service. Treat prisoners of war kindly to co-opt them. Know that wars do not enhance your security; they endanger it by sowing future conflict. Strive for a speedy victory.


[2.01] Generally, the requirements of warfare are this way: One thousand four-horse chariots, one thousand leather chariots, one hundred thousand belted armor, transporting provisions one thousand kilometers, the distribution of internal and on-the-field spending, the efforts of having guests,* materials such as glue and lacquer, tributes in chariots and armor, will amount to expenses of a thousand gold pieces a day.

[2.02] Only then can one hundred thousand troops be raised.

[2.03] When doing battle, seek a quick victory. A long battle will blunt weapons and diminish ferocity.

[2.04] If troops lay siege to a walled city, their strength will be exhausted.

[2.05] If the army is involved in a long campaign, the nation's resources will not suffice.

[2.06] When weapons are blunted and ferocity diminished, strength exhausted and resources depleted, the neighboring rulers will take advantage of these complications.

[2.07] Then even the wisest of counsels would not be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

[2.08] Therefore, I have heard of military campaigns that were clumsy but swift, but I have never seen military campaigns that were skilled but protracted. No nation has ever benefited from protracted warfare.*

[2.09] Therefore, if one is not fully cognizant of the dangers inherent in doing battle, one cannot fully know the benefits of doing battle.



2.01 Guests. Friends, allies, advisors outside your own state.
2.08 Protracted warfare. It results in a pyrrhic, or empty, victory, a win in which the cost has been too great to make the fighting worthwhile.

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