Do not encamp on entrapping terrain. Unite with your allies on focal terrain. Do not remain on isolated terrain. Make strategic plans for encircled terrain. On fatal terrain you must do battle.
There are roads that are not followed. There are armies that are not attacked. There are fortified cities that are not assaulted. There is terrain for which one does not contend. There are commands from the ruler that are not accepted. One who truly understands the changes in affairs knows how to employ military.
Thus the general who has a penetrating understanding of the advantages of the nine changes knows how to employ the army. If a general does not have a penetrating understanding of the advantages of the nine changes, even though he is familiar with the topography, he will not be able to realise the advantages of terrain. One who commands an army but does not know the techniques for the nine changes, even though he is familiar with the five advantages, will not be able to control men.
For this reason the wise must contemplate the intermixture of gain and loss. If they discern advantage in difficult situations, their efforts can be trusted. If they discern harm in prospective advantages, difficulties can be resolved.
Accordingly, subjugate the feudal lords with potential harm; labour the feudal lords with numerous affairs; and have the feudal lords race after profits.
Thus the strategy for employing the army: Do not rely on their not coming, but depend on having the means to await them. Do not rely on their not attacking, but depend on having an unassailable position.
Thus generals have five dangerous character traits: One commited to dying can be slain. One commited to living can be captured. One easily angered and hasty to act can be insulted. One obsessed with being scrupulous and untainted can be shamed. One who loves the people can be troubled.
Now these five dangerous traits are excesses in a general, potential disaster for employing the army. The army's destruction and the general's death will invariably stem from these five, so they must be investigated.