Chapter 5 - Strategic Military Power

In general, commanding a large number is like commanding a few. It is a question of dividing up the numbers. Fighting with a large number is like fighting with a few. It is a question of configuration and designation.

If the army's attack is like a whetstone thrown against an egg, it is due to the vacous and substantial.

What enable the masses of the Three Armies invariably to withstand the enemy without being defeated are the unorthodox and orthodox. In general, in battle one engages with the orthodox and gains victory through the unorthodox. Thus one who excels at sending forth the unorthodox is as inexhaustible as Heaven, as unlimited as the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers. In warfare, the strategic configurations of power do not exceed the unorthodox and orthodox, but the changes of the unorthodox and orthodox can never be completely exhausted. The unorthodox and orthodox mutually produce each other, just like an endless cycle. Who can exhaust them?

The strategic configuration of power is visible in the onrush of pent-up water tumbling stones along. The effect of constraints is visible in the onrush of a bird of prey breaking the bones of its target. Thus the strategic configuration of power of those focused, their constraints are precise. Their strategic configuration of power is like a fully drawn crossbow, their constraints like the release of the trigger.
Intermixed and turbulent, the fighting appears chaotic, but they cannot be made disordered. In turmoil and confusion, their deployment is circular, and they cannot be defeated.

Simulated chaos is given birth from control; the illusion of fear is given birth from courage; feigned weakness is given birth from strength. Order and disorder are a question of numbers; courage and fear are a question of the strategic configuration of power; strength and weakness are a question of the deployment of forces.
Thus one who excels at moving the enemy deploys in a configuration to which the enemy must respond. He offers something that the enemy must seize. With profit he moves them, with the foundation he awaits them.

Thus one who excels at warfare seeks victory through the strategic configuration of power, not from reliance on men. Thus he is able to select men and employ strategic power.

One who employs strategic power commands men in battle as if he were rolling logs and stones. The nature of wood and stone is to be quiet when stable but to move when on preciptous ground. If they are square they stop, if round they tend to move. Thus the strategic power of one who excels at employing men in warfare is comparable to rolling round boulders down a thousand-fathom mountain.