The Annotated Art of War (Parts 6.25-27: Conceal Tactics)
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Annotated Art of War > Parts 6.25-27: Conceal Tactics
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VI. Weak Points and Strong
|Sun Tzu said:
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
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.