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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 9.1-2: High Places)

 

Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 9.1-2: High Places

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IX. The Army on the March

 

Sun Tzu said: Commentary
1. Sun Tzu said: We come now to the question of encamping the army, and observing signs of the enemy. Pass quickly over mountains, and keep in the neighborhood of valleys.

Although high places can be strategically important to hold, when on the march they may yet offer a net disadvantage.

High places are not the same as smaller hills which give sight all around and which can be comfortably defended.

High places can be bare, cold and lack resources for keeping the army fed. Armies in high places may also be spotted from multiple other locations.

High places can leave you with your back to a mountain with the only route being down. This can lead to you becoming trapped.

Valleys offer more space in which to manoeuver. You can hide a large army in a valley, with only a few sentries in the high places to prevent ambush.

2. Camp in high places, facing the sun. Do not climb heights in order to fight. So much for mountain warfare. If you must camp high, doing so facing the sun will provide more warmth to compensate for the cold (although armies can hide more effectively in the shade).

It is good to be in high places to fire down on an enemy below, but fighting in high places is difficult unless you know the terrain well. It is harder to move and the crags may hide enemies who know the territory better than you.

 

 

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