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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 13.21-25: Using The Five Classes of Spies)

 

Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 13.21-25: Using The Five Classes of Spies

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XIII. The Use of Spies

 

Sun Tzu said: Commentary
21. The enemy's spies who have come to spy on us must be sought out, tempted with bribes, led away and comfortably housed. Thus they will become converted spies and available for our service.

When finding an enemy spy, it is tempting to interrogate and punish them harshly. Yet if you can turn them to your will, they can be immensely useful.

Seek to understand the mentality of spies and how they are motivated. If they can be persuaded, bribed or otherwise motivated, use whatever will gain their greatest compliance. Do not spare expense in this, as the value the spy will bring may be far greater than any cost.

22. It is through the information brought by the converted spy that we are able to acquire and employ local and inward spies. Spies from the other side know the enemy territory and people. One of their greatest contributions may be in finding and recruiting more spies in enemy territory and organizations.
23. It is owing to his information, again, that we can cause the doomed spy to carry false tidings to the enemy. Where a spy's usefulness is ending, then you can make one last ploy by planting false information with them.

It may be important that the spy does not know they are doomed and does not know they have false information. Hence when they are interrogated and give up their knowledge slowly, they will be believed.

24. Lastly, it is by his information that the surviving spy can be used on appointed occasions. A spy who has gone deep and come back alive may have much knowledge that cannot just be written down. They hence may become advisors, commenting on critical plans and suggesting possible actions.
25. The end and aim of spying in all its five varieties is knowledge of the enemy; and this knowledge can only be derived, in the first instance, from the converted spy. Hence it is essential that the converted spy be treated with the utmost liberality. Knowledge of the enemy, such as their plans, numbers, morale and so on may be guessed from distant observation. The certainty that a converted spy brings allows far more direct action and can end the war more quickly.

To give up such information, it is far better to motivate the spy with reward than punishment. Interrogation leads to people telling you what they think you want to know. Proper motivation leads them to really want to help you.

 

 

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