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The Unorthodox Army

 

Disciplines > WarfareThe Six Secret Teachings > 3.10 The Unorthodox Army

Teaching set  | Observed lessons | Discussion | See also

 

Teaching set

Martial Secret Teachings 3.10 (27)

Observed lessons

  • Deceive to win.
  • Use undergrowth, weather, night and geography to conceal attacks and escapes.
  • Use uneven, soft and sloping ground to confound vehicles and horses.
  • Fight on open ground when you want to show courage.
  • Act with speed and power to surprise, terrify and overwhelm.
  • Feign retreat and use ambushes to destroy large forces with small ones.
  • Divide forces unevenly and move irregularly so they cannot predict your power or action.
  • Be creative, including how you cross rivers and ravines.
  • Distract with noise and apparent large movements.
  • Sever their supply lines using disguised soldiers.
  • Keep motivating your forces. Manage their emotions.
  • When you must stay where you are, build impregnable defenses.
  • If you must retreat, discard your uniforms and gear. Appear like ordinary people or enemy soldiers.
  • The general must be benevolent, courageous, wise, quick-witted, perceptive, alert, strong and forceful.

Discussion

As with other major texts on warfare, maneuvering and deception are critical elements. 'Attack the front and seize the rear' is a classic ploy, where the frontal attack draws attention that exposes the rear and flanks. Concealment is a key tool in deception, as is distraction.

While these texts were written before the age of war machines, much is still relevant. This includes the use of creativity. When you are creative, you produce something that has not been thought of before. This gives both immediate value and also confuses the enemy.

In retreat, the first goal is survival. This may require deception including creating disguises. When you survive, you may later regroup to fight another day. Heroic rear-guard action that just kills people is pointless.

The qualities of the leader, as noted in other teachings, is critical. In some industries, leaders can hide behind desks and bureaucracies. In war, good and bad leaders are quickly obvious.

See also

The 36 Stratagems, in Detail, The Annotated Art of War

 

Sawyer, R.D. (1993). The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, Basic Books

 

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