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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 6.25-27: Conceal Tactics)

 

Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 6.25-27: Conceal Tactics

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VI. Weak Points and Strong

 

Sun Tzu said: Commentary
25. In making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them; conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains.

In war, spying and intelligence is a subtle and important strand of activity. The enemy may infiltrate their own people into your troops. Your officer may be bribed or blackmailed. Hidden observers may see your preparations.

This means that the more important your intent, the more secret you must keep it, right up until deployment. Knowing who you can absolutely trust is also very important.

26. How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy's own tactics--that is what the multitude cannot comprehend. If you know what the enemy is doing, you can respond accordingly. In this way, their actions shape your actions.

Of course there is always danger in reacting where this gives them the upper hand or where your reactions are predictable and so allow them to gain further advantage.

27. All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. Tactics are implemented actions that are each a part of a grander strategy. If you understand the strategy, you may be able to predict likely tactics.

Seeing tactics is about the present, what is being done now. This does not mean you can conclude what preparations were required, nor what future actions will be taken.

Good tactics do not give away the strategy. They surprise the enemy or cause him to believe you are using a strategy that is different from you actual strategy.

 

 

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