Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sun Tzu: Some Wargaming Concepts

Thought for the first post, these 24 points are a good beginning to see some of the major failures of the French forces in Spain from 1807-1814. What would have happened if these points had been observed?

1. If instructions are not clear and commands not explicit, it is the commander's fault.

2. Know your enemy and know yourself and in 100 battles you will never be in peril. To win 100 battles is not the height of skill - to subdue the enemy without fighting is.

3. Avoid what is strong, attack what is weak.

4. It is more important to outthink your enemy then to outfight them.

5. In war, numbers alone confer no advantage - Do not advance relying on sheer military power.

6. Let your plans be as dark as night - Then strike like a thunderbolt.

7. In battle use a direct attack to engage and an indirect attack to win.

8. There are 5 fundamental factors for success in war: Weather, terrain, leadership, military doctrine and most importantly - moral influence.

9. To move your enemy, entice them with something they are certain to take.

10. Put the army in the face of death where there is no escape and they will not flee or be afraid - there is nothing they cannot achieve.

11. All warfare is deception.

12. It is essential to seek out enemy agents who have come to spy against you and bribe them to serve you.

13. The way a wise man can achieve greatness beyond ordinary men is through foreknowledge.

14. When a falcon's strike breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing. When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of momentum.

15. It is essential for victory that generals are unconstrained by their leaders. I.E. - "The enlightened general should be free to conduct war without interference from the leader. (A huge problem for French forces relying on orders from Paris that is weeks old.)

16. Make your enemy act with their left and they will be weak on their right.

17. The winning army realizes the conditions for victory first, then fights - The losing army fights first, then seeks victory.

18. No nation has ever benefitted from prolonged war.

19. Those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle. They are not brought by the opposition. (The French could have just used this one point and things would have been very different.)

20. Move only when you see an advantage and there is something to gain. Only fight if a position is critical.

21. When the enemy occupies high ground, do not confront them. If they attack downhill, do not oppose them. (Here the French take the opposite view. Sadly but to no surprise, it failed to work.)

22. There are some armies that should not be fought. Some ground that should not be contested. (This would describe Spain and Portugal as a whole.)

23. When troops flee, are insubordinate, collapse or are routed in battle, it is the fault of the general. (See Salamanca and Vittoria.)

24. War is a matter of vital importance to the state - it is a matter of life and death, survival or ruin

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