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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 12.1-2: Five Ways)

 

Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 12.1-2: Five Ways

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XII. The Attack by Fire

 

Sun Tzu said: Commentary
1. 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.

Incendiaries and fire-starting have been used for many centuries.

Attack by fire is a fearsome thing. Not only is the heat dangerous but the smoke quickly clogs lungs. Smoke also reduces visibility and causes confusion.

Burning in camps can be of tents, equipment and the ground or woods around. This is a direct attack on soldiers and causes great fear and confusion.

Burning stores takes away vital supplies and hence causes great inconvenience, perhaps even forcing the enemy to retreat.

Burning the supply line of baggage trains removes supplies in another way, preventing vital supplies from arriving and so causing confusion and uncertainty.

Burning the arsenal deprives the enemy of their weapons. In modern warfare this causes great explosions which leads to further damage, confusion and fear.

Finally, dropping fire upon the enemy wherever they are from a height is another fearful attack on soldiers. On the battlefield, it creates smoke and confusion. 

2. In order to carry out an attack, we must have means available. The material for raising fire should always be kept in readiness. Using fire may be an opportunistic attack. It hence requires that you are always ready to use this fearsome device.

 

 

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