Strategic Attack, The Dragon & Art of War


Stratagem of Attack / Strategic Attack /Offensive War Plan/ Overall Focus

The word “Dragon” comes from the Greek word “draconta” which means “to watch.” Dragons watch and guard and gold and jewels. In the context of this the third article/chapter of Sun Tzu Art of War the Dragon watch guard the nation and people.

These winged fire breathing serpent creatures are intelligent and loyal. Defending wealth and divising strategems against enemies. They are ready to go on the offensive if needed.

The dragons teeth once fallen on the soil give birth to the draconis dentata warrior. These ‘warriors’ are so passionate that they will turn on each other if lacking a ready enemy. So we must make sure that our enemies are nearby before the dragons teeth fall into the ground. When these warriors rise from the soil they must focus only towards the enemy.

Oh God!

Thou art the Giver of Life,

Remover of pain and sorrow,

The Bestower of happiness,

Oh! Creator of the Universe,

May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light,

May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.

Sun Tzu said: The best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country intact; to shatter and destroy it is not good. Better to capture an army entire than to destroy it. 

Harming our enemy when not necessary creates hate. Showing power without fighting invokes awe in the enemy. The captured enemy must give up its weapons. Treating our enemy with respect yet firmness shows resolve and honour. It is better to weaken and take over the enemy than indulge in expensive battles. If seen as superior, we induce soldiers and civilians from the enemy to join us – weakening them further.

When our enemy sees that we can defeat them with ease, fewer will seek to fight to an inevitable death with no glory. Kindness in capturing weakens our enemies resolve and frames us as morally and strategically, superior.

Arthur Schopenhauer said: Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. We go through life only looking through our own (or group we identify with) understanding of the world. In time of stress – such as a battle, war or other pain we cannot effectively deal with it.

Schopenhauer also said: The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice. Simply: The discovery of truth is prevented by preconceived opinion, by prejudice. We have been programmed since birth with identities and ideas on who we are and how we should live – as have others – none of us are the same. We all have different perceptions of our own life and others lives and focusing on these differences leads to conflict.

In reality there is simply no ‘us and them’ where we as human beings are concerned, yes we have multitudes of identites. But we must always be mindful that before our birth and after death we had no identity and will not have an identity. Each time we verbalise an identity – our identity – its a statement of power.

Sun Tzu said: To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence. Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

Here are the goals to seek in our planning:

Thus the highest form of generalship is to resist the plans of the enemy. If we can see what the enemy is planning, we can prepare to pull the rug from under its feet.

The next best generalship is to prevent the enemy’s forces and allies from coming together. If we cannot see their plans then we may be able to outflank them before they join sides. When they see we have a superior position, they may concede.

The next generalship is to attack the enemy’s army in the field. If we must fight, it is better to fight in open space than where our enemy has a positional advantage.

The worst generalship is to besiege walled cities. As this can drag on for a long time and takes much resources. Our troops will remain exposed and theirs hidden. The expense of siege makes it a final option only.

If our general gets irritated and launches an assault and the town remains untaken and a third of our soldiers lay dead what then?. Sieges are a distaster in waiting. Frustration in the face our enemy is a dangerous emotion that clouds our judgement and favours the enemy.

Appoint good commanders:

We must appoint strong and competent commanders – generals to lead our warriors. We will bring misfortune on our forces by micromanaging our generals and should generals give orders that cannot be obeyed it will create conflict in the officers on ground. It also does little for the credibility of our generals and our credibility as leaders in turn.

When we have strategy but not presence on the field of battle we must trust the generals to use different tactics. And allow our generals and officers ‘strategic disobedience’ to win the war. We cannot command military forces in the same way as our nations.

An army is not a democracy:

Soldiers and citizens have different rights, responsibilities and freedoms. The military is no democracy – for good reason. We cannot ask soldiers if they would like to advance. Orders to advance must be obeyed without question or delay.

Democracy, human rights and justice are the principles on which to govern civilians in time of peace. Military forces must remain flexibile and focused. Politics or encouragement of politics within our forces is stupid if not outright dangerous especially in the heat of battle. We must have the best officers without discrimination. Officers that can can adapt to circumstances. The confidence of the soldiers in their officers and the officers in their generals will promote a focused chain of command.

Blind orders from leaders and senior officers have been the downfall of many armies. The rules of war change and fighting by the rules of previous wars can bring disaster.

Important quotes to remember:

What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.

“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

It is the rule in war, if ten times the enemy’s strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, be able to divide them; if equal, engage them; if fewer, defend against them; if weaker, be able to avoid them.

For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities… It is best to win without fighting.

What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.

He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.

He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.

In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.

It is best to keep one’s own state intact; to crush the enemy’s state is only second best.

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Mohammed Abbasi
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