II: Doing Battle
When you do battle, even if you are winning, if you continue for a long
time it will dull your forces and blunt your edge; if you besiege a
citadel, your strength will be exhausted. If you keep your armies out in
the field for a long time, your supplies will be insufficient.
When your forces are dulled, your edge is blunted, your strength is exhausted, and your supplies are gone, then others will take advantage of your debility and rise up. Then even if you have wise advisors you cannot make things turn out well in the end.
Therefore I have heard of military operations that were clumsy but swift, but I have never seen one that was skillful and lasted a long time. It is never beneficial to a nation to have a military operation continue for a long time.
Therefore, those who are not thoroughly aware of the disadvantages in the use of arms cannot be thoroughly aware of the advantages in the use of arms.
Those who use the military skillfully do not raise troops twice and do not provide food three times.
By taking equipment from your own country but feeding off the enemy you can be sufficient in both arms and provisions.
When a country is impoverished by military operations, it is because of transporting supplies to a distant place. Transport supplies to a distant place, and the populace will be impoverished.
Those who are near the army sell at high prices. Because of high prices, the wealth of the common people is exhausted.
When resources are exhausted, then levies are made under pressure. When power and resources are exhausted, then the homeland is drained. The common people are deprived of seventy percent of their budget, while the government's expenses for equipment amount to sixty percent of its budget.
Therefore a wise general strives to feed off the enemy. Each pound of food taken from the enemy is equivalent to twenty pounds you provide by yourself.
So what kills the enemy is anger, what gets the enemy's good is reward.
Therefore, in a chariot battle, reward the first to capture at least ten chariots.
Change their colors, use them mixed in with your own. Treat the soldiers well, take care of them.
This is called overcoming the opponent and increasing your strength to boot.
So the important thing in a military operation is victory, not persistence.
Hence, we know that the leader of the army is in charge of the lives of the people and safety of the nation.