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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 1.13-14: Seven Considerations)


Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 1.13-14: Seven Considerations

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I. Laying Plans


Sun Tzu said: Commentary
13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law? (2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (5) Which army is stronger? (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment? This uses the Five Constant Factors to compare both yourself and your opponents against the same standard. If one of you has a better understanding of these, then this will confer a huge understanding. If one has a weakness in just one area, then this is where attack will be most successful.

(1) Values and morals start from the very top and filter down. What the leader does, others will copy.

(2) War is not won by fine words and dress, but by cunning and command. The true ability of generals will only be found out in practice.

(3) Understanding of opposites and geography can be usefully compared. Beware of enemies who have strength in either.

(4) Discipline is at the root of all action. Even with the finest strategy, an ill-disciplined force will fail. Build and sustain discipline from day one.

(5) When two armies are pitted against one another on equal terrain, the strongest will win. If you are weaker, avoid a direct fight. If you are stronger, seek it.

(6) Discipline comes out of training. So also does cunning and knowledge of strategy and tactics. If your enemy's forces are learning faster than yours, you are in trouble.

(7) Discipline is only effective if it is consistently applied. Values of the leaders are only transmitted if they are consistently displayed. Troops are clearly motivated when they know that night follows day and consequences follow action.

14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat. In our attempts to understand the complexity of the world around us, we tend to simplify. This is both natural and potentially very dangerous. Although this is a simple model, it takes a deeper understanding of the many sub-factors to make such forecasts.

It is always a good exercise to use such models to compare both yourself and the other side against such models. Although this will not tell you everything, it can tell you much, especially where you have a weakness.

Always remember that the other side may also have read Sun Tzu and be applying his advice.



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