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The Annotated Art of War (Parts 2.16-18: Rewarding Troops)


Disciplines > Warfare > The Annotated Art of War > Parts 2.16-18: Rewarding Troops

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II. Waging War


Sun Tzu said: Commentary
16. Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards. Anger has a biochemical effect on the body and the brain. Fear is forgotten. Adrenaline courses through the muscles. The natural state for fighting is aroused.

A simmering anger also is effective in motivating troops over the longer term. In this way the atrocities of the enemy may be held up and amplified such that they create a longer-term hatred that drive the army on and on until victory is gained.

The desire for justice is a result of a feeling of betrayal or that sacred values have been transgressed. When victory is the means of restoration, then soldiers will single-mindedly seek the defeat of their bitter enemies.

17. Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first. Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept. Position the spoils of war as just reward for defeating the cursed enemy.

Celebrate the victors and the brave. Make taking of the spoils of war a glorious thing.

Yet also beware of the damaging effects of extrinsic motivation. When the spoils of war become the main motivation, soldiers lose focus.

Ensure your troops do not become as animals, for example by sustaining humanity in the treatment of prisoners. When the enemy's possessions have been taken, the person may be forgiven.

Soldier who are captured and abused will hate you forever, as will their friends and family. Treat them well and they will take your part more easily. Doing this also encourages your enemy to likewise.

18. This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one's own strength. Disabling, capturing and stripping the enemy of their goods only gives you greater strength and avoids collateral damage that causes longer-term harm.



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