This is a translation of Chapter 2 of The Art of War by Sunzi. No English sources were used.
The ordinary methods of war demand:
- 1,000 teams of 4 horses each,
- 1,000 wagons,
- 100,000 shields,
- provisions to march 1,000 miles,
- domestic and foreign expenses,
- hospitality for guests,
- construction materials for siege weapons,
- armored vehicles,
…and an army of 100,000 soldiers.
A long war is an expensive war.
An expensive war will cause your vassals to rebel against you.
There is no such thing as a beneficial protracted war.
If you do not understand the costs of war then you do not know which wars are worthwhile to fight.
Do not conscript troops more than once. Do not resupply your army with grain more than twice. Take what you need from the enemy. The enemy has ample grain and an army of troops.
Resupplying an army over long distances impoverishes a country.
Prices soar in wartime. Levying the peasantry under such circumstances will impoverish them while extracting only forced labor.
The central plains will go unfarmed. Seven tenths of the peasantry's labor will be wasted.
Supplying an army out of the public purse slows the army down. Horses sicken. Shields split. Oxen tire. Six tenths is wasted.
The wise general eats the enemy's food. A captured bowl of enemy food is worth twenty bowls of your own. A captured ton of enemy grain is worth twenty tons of your own.
Let your troops kill the enemy in anger, plunder the enemy in greed. A captured enemy combat vehicle is worth no fewer than ten of your own. Reward your first soldier to capture one. Replace its flag. Mix it in among your own.
A good soldier steals victory from the enemy.
A valuable victory is a quick victory. A general who, understanding this, issues orders to the people—thereupon is the fate of a state determined.