CHAPTER SUMMARY (7.01-7.26): Advancing to Attack When Necessary
Prepare for battle, keeping in mind the superiors and subordinates you, as general, must support. Identify a quicker, more direct route than the traditional one to give your army the advantage. Distract the enemy by baiting it with an easy gain while your army advances into position first/more favorably. Know that every decision involves risks. You'll have to shed some safety (e.g., your equipment) to gain speed, or you'll have to slow down (retain the equipment) to ensure safety. Determine the best balance. Know that you need enough strength at all times to handle the unforeseen. How do you advance with both speed and enough strength? Get a hold of specialized information to find reliable, reasonably safe shortcuts. Ask others for help when needed. Communicate closely with those around you so that the lot of you can adapt together to changing circumstances. When you plunder an enemy, its land and army are fair game, not its citizens. Share the plunder with others on your side. Remember that symbol and spectacle (drumbeats, flags, etc.) are communicative and unifying elements and use them to that end. Calculate the best time of day to strike. Are you confronting an unskilled adversary who's eager for action? Conceal your troops and wear that enemy down. Are you confronting an enemy who outsmarts you in some way? Keep adapting your strategy to your changing circumstances.
[7.01] Generally, the principles of warfare are: The general receives his commands from the ruler, assembles the troops, mobilizes the army, and sets up camp.
[7.02] There is nothing more difficult than armed struggle.
[7.03] In armed struggle, the difficulty is turning the circuitous into the direct,* and turning adversity into advantage.
[7.04] Therefore, if you make the enemy's route circuitous and bait him* with advantages, though you start out behind him, you will arrive before him. This is to know the calculations of the circuitous and of the direct.
[7.05] Therefore, armed struggle has advantages, and armed struggle has risks. If the entire army mobilizes for an advantage, you will not arrive on time.
[7.06] If a reduced army mobilizes for an advantage, your stores and equipment will be lost.*
[7.07] For this reason, by rolling up your armor,* rushing forward without stopping day or night, covering twice the usual distance for an advantage a hundred kilometers away, the general will be captured. The strong will arrive first, the weak will lag behind, and as a rule, only one-tenth will arrive.
[7.08] If one struggles for an advantage fifty kilometers [31 miles] away, the general of the front forces will be thwarted, and as a rule only one half will arrive. If one struggles for an advantage thirty kilometers [19 miles] away, then two-thirds of the army will arrive.*
[7.09] For this reason, if an army is without its equipment, it will lose; if an army is without its provisions, it will lose; if the army is without its stores, it will lose.*
[7.10] Therefore, one who does not know the intentions of the rulers of the neighboring states cannot secure alliances.
7. 03 turning the circuitous into the direct. Turning a long, customary route into a shortened one that gives your army the advantage over your adversary.
7. 04 make the enemy's route long and bait him. Disrupt the enemy's plans. Make its route longer; distract its troops with the prospect of an easy gain.
7.06 If the entire army...will be lost. If your entire army tries to take a speedier route, you won't be quickest to reach your destination due to your equipment load. If a partial force takes the more direct route, it needs enough supplies to defend itself from unforeseen dangers.
7.07 rolling up your armor. Packing up and leaving it behind some of your protection with other equipment in order to lighten your load quicken your pace.
7.08 two-thirds of the army will arrive. In other words, the farther the army must travel, the scantier its resources are, and the more reduced its chance for success.
7.09 without its stores, it will lose. A force needs enough strength to defend itself from unexpected dangers and attacks.