SUN TZU – ART of WAR – Book Review


Art of War written by Sun Tzu 2500 years ago in China. Taoism has influenced it
significantly. Ideas in Art of War not only helped war situations also it helped today’s
businesspeople. Japan’s modernization process used ideas in the book. These examples show
that Art of War is a classic which is not only about war but almost all human relations.

I am going to analyze the book chapter by chapter because every chapter has ties inside it.

I. Laying Plans: In this chapter Sun Tzu explains how war making, civil life and
political life connected each other. How effective making plans and preparations on
result of a war. (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5)
Method and discipline. These elements govern to conditions of war. Sun Tzu gives
some questions for commander to answer. Answers of these questions will show
current situation of army.
II. Waging War: This part says that making war has a significant cost for a state so
before starting a war making plans on logistics, taxes and preparing budged is
necessary. Making points to finish war in a short time is crucial. Otherwise, war will
be far costlier than the aim. Additionally, loots during war will help to reduce cost of
war of yours and increase the opponents.
III. Attack by Stratagem: Sun says There are three type of generalship. “supreme
excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.” This part of
the book is one of the popular one. Winning wars without fighting is the highest form
of generalship. Additionally, Sun Tzu says that army moral, officer’s quality and
discipline are strongly affects an army’s power.
IV. Tactical Dispositions: After giving strategical advices Sun Tzu gives general tactical
advices in this part. Avoiding from a defeat is the first step for a general. Later a
general should seek mistakes of the enemy for winning a war he says.

V. Energy: Shun Tzu defines energy as a preparation of tactics. After creating energy
commander will release this energy upon enemy. He gives this comparison to better
understanding “Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow, decision, to the
releasing of a trigger.”.
VI. Weak Points and Strong: Subtlety and secrecy defined as divine things by Sun Tzu.
To “hold enemy’s fate in our hands” those two are key abilities for a commander.
VII. Maneuvering: knowledge about enemy and geography are most important
information to create tactics.
VIII. Variation in Tactics: This part advises are generally focused on Commander. Sun
Tzu says that commander should take initiative for victory. Sometimes orders from
superiors should not be followed to achieve victory. The burden he puts on
commanders’ shoulders are very high. He says that a commander should change his
personal traits. He lists some bad traits for a commander; recklessness, cowardice, a
hasty temper, a delicacy of honor, over-solicitude for his men.
IX. The Army on the March: This part gives tips to commander about marching stance.
Where and when to engage enemy, how to use geography, understanding behaviors
of enemy soldiers, uncovering traps, and lastly reading your own soldier’s behaviors
to understand their needs.
X. Terrain: Terrain part’s one half is about terrain features other is about general’s
responsibilities. In first half Sun Tzu says that there are six types of terrain which are
named natural ones: “(1) Accessible ground; (2) entangling ground; (3) temporizing
ground; (4) narrow passes; (5) precipitous heights; (6) positions at a great distance
from the enemy.”. For Sun Tzu, these different types of terrains require different
tactics and movements. Second half is about commander’s failures. He points these
failures so a commander can avoid them. (1) Flight; (2) insubordination; (3) collapse;
(4) ruin; (5) disorganization; (6) rout. These failures are all about army management,
discipline, sustaining authority and merit.
XI. The Nine Situations: These nine situations classified by enemy and ally lands. (1)
Dispersive ground; (2) facile ground; (3) contentious ground; (4) open ground; (5)
ground of intersecting highways; (6) serious ground; (7) difficult ground; (8)
hemmed-in ground; (9) desperate ground. The most detailed part of the book is this
part. Sun Tzu gives detailed information about features of these nine situations.
Also, some tips to avoid from defeat and winning a war.

XII. The Attack by Fire: Fire is one of the common war technologies at Shun Tzu’s time.
He gives technical and tactical information about fire usage in war. He explains
suitable conditions to use fire in a war by weather conditions, astrology, and seasons.
Then he connects the topic to anger control’s importance for a commander.
XIII. The Uses of Spies: gathering a country’s all power into an aim is significantly costly
for every element of it. So, usage of conspiracy is crucial to lead such power to a
victory. Sun Tzu categorizes spies into five classes. (1) Local spies; (2) inward spies;
(3) converted spies; (4) doomed spies; (5) surviving spies. These spy categories are
for where to use them how much resource to give them.

This article written by Ozan Anıl Özmercan

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War Games: What Will Be Our Next Conflict?

Johnny Matrix March 9, 2014
“When the number of factors coming into play in a phenomenological complex is too large…prediction even for a few days ahead is impossible” — Albert Einstein

Even though Einstein could smoke me on the GRE, I think it’s still worth a try.

Will our next foray into combat be asymmetric? I would love to be able to say that America has lost its appetite for this type of war. However, it is difficult to support this claim knowing that a maximum of .5% of our population served at the height of the War on Terror. With our projected force re-structuring, it will be all but impossible to conduct anything resembling our disposition in Iraq or Afghanistan. Our highest troop number in both countries was roughly 150,000-200,000. That’s almost half the future potential size of the Army alone, which leaves the other half either training or recouping, that is to say not ready for war. There could be a possibility of counterinsurgency waged in an indirect manner (argued during my last post), but this is unlikely as we have always been disinclined to deploy conventional troops with the intent on training foreign forces.

While it is all fun to talk about how we can affect unconventional war, the enemy’s vote is far more important to comprehend. A quick rundown of our adversaries reveals quite a bit in regards to where we have concentrated our resources;

Af/Pak Region: HIG (Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin) & LeT (Lashkar-e Taybah) are regional threats at best. While they are the biggest threat to our deployed military at the moment, they pose little danger to the homeland.

Middle East: Al Nusra / ISIS are ponds in the violent chess game that is the Syrian Civil War.

North Africa: AQIM acts almost as a front…cannon fodder to keep our unmanned assets preoccupied.

While, recent history has supported the theory following the possibility of a strike originating from power vacuums such as those regions previously mentioned, more credible threats have unexpectedly come from inexperienced and untrained conduits, such as the 7 July Bombers in London, Umar Abdulmutallab (underwear bomber), and various other thwarted attacks on the homeland.

If conventional war was suspect prior to the GWOT, the possible outcome of the Crimea conflict could almost cement the impossibility of such a war occurring again in the future. It may sound sick when I say that this current dynamic is actually a healthy exercise, as it should provide our government with a wake-up call concerning what a possible conventional war could look like.

Say Russia shows their hand on the table and it involves a kinetic takeover of Ukraine’s southern peninsula. At this point, I find it difficult to believe our country is mentally prepared to escalate the conflict further by reinforcing unit’s in Germany and Italy. Russia’s ground troops number close to almost one million soldiers and while they are, generally speaking, poorly equipped and trained conscripts fighting for a weak cause, there is something to be said for the fact that Mother Russia has proved before that their strength is in the numbers and they are not afraid to sacrifice them. Barring nuclear involvement, would we be willing to perform airstrikes on vital Russian targets in Ukraine? I’d venture to say polls would point towards the negative as there are multiple options within the economic and diplomatic realms that we’d exhaust prior to any military involvement.

So what this proves is that one nation could completely invade and overtake another country in Europe, one of the most civilized continents on earth, and no one will do anything about it. If there is a better scenario that can rule conventional war out of the equation…I’m all ears.

For students of the subject, war has a spectrum with absolute peace and utter war on either end. If one subscribes to the 0-10 scale, the GWOT falls around the 5.75 mark while an unlikely but potential all-out ground war with Russia resides closer in the 8.33 (repeating of course) area. Many divide the spectrum into two sections, one covering general peace and the other comprised of combat. The difficult part in using this spectrum is that there are no metrics, ie casualties, length, collateral fallout. It is only defined by classifications of conflict, in other words counterinsurgency is lower on the totem pole than international war. Also, it is too cold of a grading scale. The average US citizen feels his country may be at a 1.25, with his only connection to the war on CNN, while a village Mullah from Panjwai, who lost most of his family to the fighting, will attest to a 9.5.

One may remark at the all too specific forecast of what could possibly come in a future time of war. I would argue that as the superpower we believe ourselves to be, it is simply not enough to only be prepared for any type of war…we must be able to know what comes next.

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