Therefore, structure warfare according to the following five factors, evaluate it comparatively through estimations, and seek out its true nature. The first is termed the Tao, the second Heaven, the third Earth, the fourth generals, and the fifth the laws for military organisation and discipline. The Tao causes the people to be fully in accord with the ruler. Thus they will die with him, they will live with him and not fear danger. Heaven encompasses yin and yang, cold and heat, and the constraints of the seasons.
Earth encompasses far or near, difficult or easy, expansive or confined, fatal or tenable terrain.
The general encompasses wisdom, credibility, benevolence, courage, and strictness.
The laws for military organisation and discipline encompass organisation and regulations, the Tao of command, and the management of logistics.
There are no generals who have not heard of these five. Those who understand them will be victorious, those who do not understand them will not be victorious.
Thus when making a comparative evaluation, ask:
Which ruler has the Tao?
Which general has greater ability?
Who has gained the advantages of Heaven and Earth?
Whose laws and orders are more thoroughly implemented?
Whose forces are stronger?
Whose officers and troops are better trained?
Whose rewards and punishments are clearer?
From these I will know victory and defeat!
If a general follows my methods for estimation and you employ him, he will certainly be victorious and should be retained. If a general does not follow my methods for estimation and you employ him, he will certainly be defeated, so dismiss him.After estimating the advantages in accord with what you have heard, put it into effect with strategic power supplemented by field tactics that respond to external factors. As for strategic power, it is controlling the tactical imbalance of power in accord with the gains to be realised.
Warfare is the Tao of deception.
Although you are capable, display incapability.
When committed to employing your forces, feign inactivity.
When your objective is nearby, make it appear distant; when distant, create the illusion of being nearby.
Display profits to entice them.
Create disorder in their forces and take them.
If they are substantial, prepare for them.
If they are strong, avoid them.
If they are angry, perturb them.
Be deferential to foster their arrogance.
If they are rested, force them to exert themselves.
If they are united, cause them to be seperated.
Attack where they are unprepared.
Go forth where they will not expect it. These are the ways military strategists are victorious. They cannot be spoken of in advance.
Before the engagment, one who determines in the ancestral temple that he will be victorious has found that the majority of factors are in his favour. Before the engagement one who determines in the ancestral temple that he will not be victorious has found few factors are in his favour. If one who finds that the majority of factors favour him will be victorious, while one who has found few factors favour him will be defeated, what about someone who finds no factors in his favour? Observing it from this perspective, victory and defeat will be apparent.