Use of Fire
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- Sun Tzu said: There are five ways of attacking with fire. The first is to burn soldiers in their camp; the second is
to burn stores; the third is to burn baggage trains; the fourth is to burn arsenals and magazines; the fifth is to hurl dropping
fire amongst the enemy.
- In order to carry out an attack, we must have means available. The material for raising fire should always be kept
- There is a proper season for making attacks with fire, and special days for starting a conflagration.
- The proper season is when the weather is very dry; the special days are those when the moon is in the constellations
of the Sieve, the Wall, the Wing or the Cross-bar; for these four are all days of rising wind.
- In attacking with fire, one should be prepared to meet five possible developments:
- (1) When fire breaks out inside to enemy's camp, respond at once with an attack from without.
- (2) If there is an outbreak of fire, but the enemy's soldiers remain quiet, bide your time and do not attack.
- (3) When the force of the flames has reached its height, follow it up with an attack, if that is practicable; if not,
stay where you are.
- (4) If it is possible to make an assault with fire from without, do not wait for it to break out within, but deliver
your attack at a favourable moment.
- (5) When you start a fire, be to windward of it. Do not attack from the leeward.
- A wind that rises in the daytime lasts long, but a night breeze soon falls.
- In every army, the five developments connected with fire must be known, the movements of the stars calculated, and
a watch kept for the proper days.
- Hence those who use fire as an aid to the attack show intelligence; those who use water as an aid to the attack gain
an accession of strength.
- By means of water, an enemy may be intercepted, but not robbed of all his belongings.
- Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of
enterprise; for the result is waste of time and general stagnation.
- Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources.
- Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless
the position is critical.
- No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply
out of pique.
- If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.
- Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.
- But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to
- Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at
peace and an army intact.