In an accessible configuration, first occupy the heights. In a suspended configuration, go forth if they are unprepared. In a stalemated situation, do not be enticed into going forth. As for constricted configurations, if we occupy them first we must fully deploy throughout them. As for precipitous configurations, we must hold the heights and await the enemy. As for expansive configurations, if our strategic power is equal, it will be difficult to provoke them to combat.
Now these six are the Tao of terrain. Any general who undertakes responsibility for command cannot but investigate them.
Configuration of terrain is an aid to the army. Analysing the enemy, taking control of victory, estimating ravines and defiles, the distant and near, is the Tao of the superior general. One who knows these and employs them in combat will certainly be victorious. One who does not know these or employ them in combat will certainly be defeated.
There are six types of ill-fated armies: running off, lax, sinking, crumbling, chaotic, and routed. Now these six are not disasters brought about by Heaven and Earth but by the general's errors. Now if, when their strategic power is equal, one attacks ten, it is termed running off.
If the troops are strong but the officers are weak, it is termed lax. If the officers are strong but the troops weak, it is termed sinking. If the higher officers are angry and insubordinate, engaging the enemy themselves out of unrestrained anger while the general does not yet know their capability, it is termed crumbling. If the general is weak and not strict, unenlightened in his instructions and leadership; the officers and troops lack constant duties; and their deployment of troops into formation is askew, it is termed chaotic.
If the general, unable to fathom the enemy, engages a large number with a small number, attacks the strong with the weak while the army lacks a properly selected vanguard, it is termed routed.
Now these six are the Tao of defeat. Any general who undertakes responsibility for command cannot but investigate them.
When the general regards his troops as young children, they will advance to the deepest valleys with him. When he regards the troops as his beloved children, they will be willing to die with him. If they are well treated but cannot be employed, if they are loved but cannot be commanded, or when in chaos they cannot be governed, they may be compared to arrogant children and cannot be used.
If the Tao of Warfare indicates certain victory, even though the ruler has instructed that combat should be avoided, if you must engage in battle it is permissible. If the Tao of Warfare indicates you will not be victorious, even though the ruler instructs you to engage in battle, not fighting is permissible.
Thus a general who does not advance to seek fame, nor fail to retreat to avoid being charged with the capital offence of retreating, but seeks only to preserve the people and gain advantage for the ruler is the state's treasure.
If I know our troops can attack, but do not know the enemy cannot be attacked, it is only halfway to victory. If I know the enemy can be attacked, but do not realise our troops cannot attack, it is only halfway to victory. Knowing that the enemy can be attacked, and knowing that our army can attack, but not knowing the terrain is not suitable for combat, is only halfway to victory. Thus one who truly knows the army will never be deluded when he moves, never be impoverished when intiating an action.
Thus it is said if you know them and know yourself, your victory will not be imperiled. If you know Heaven and Earth, your victory can be complete.