12 Attack by Fire | The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Animated)

12 Attack by Fire | The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Animated)


Lesson number 1. In order to carry out an attack, we must have
means available. The material for raising fire should always
be kept in readiness. Hugh Capet led his men to besiege the town
of Laon in France. One night Capet’s troops were resting at
their camp just outside the town and became drunk. Duke Charles and his men who were protecting
the town took advantage of this by being prepared. They had already assembled the tools and materials
needed to start large fires and left the town with this equipment to hand. They torched Capet’s camp and by setting
fire to it, forced him to abandon the siege altogether. Fire is a resource that can be used for an
opportunistic attack. Use the environment to your advantage by having
your resources prepared, available and always ready to be used. Lesson number 2. In attacking with fire, one should be prepared
to meet five possible developments: When fire breaks out inside the enemy’s camp,
respond at once with an attack from without. When William of Normandy attacked a castle
in Mayenne, he ordered his army to shoot fire into it, in an attempt to alarm the enemy
inside. As this was taking place and panic was setting
in among his opponents, William sent two boys to sneak into the castle from the outside. Their aim was to start another fire, which
they did, and resulted in the castle garrison soon surrendering. If soldiers are forced to put out fire in
their own camp, they are more vulnerable to external attack. This principle can be utilised in business
by attacking your competitors when they are distracted. Lesson number 3. If there is an outbreak of fire, but the enemy’s
soldiers remain quiet, bide your time and do not attack. In the Second World War, Japanese Major General
Kusaba’s men devised the concept of using fire balloons to float over and attack the
U.S. mainland. The balloons were inflated with hydrogen and
carried bombs and sandbags, with the aim to incite fear and terror throughout America. There was a strong danger that these balloons
could create forest wildfires on impact. The psychological effect on the American people
could have been huge, so U.S. authorities ordered the media to keep quiet about any
balloon incidents. They did not want to let their enemy know
of their potential effectiveness. Despite a low success rate, U.S. authorities
were still worried and didn’t even know where the balloons were coming from. They took some of the sand from the sandbags
to a Geology Unit for investigation. There they discovered the sand came from Japan
and even pinpointed the specific part of the country it came from. Reconnaissance of the area revealed two hydrogen
plants, which were then soon destroyed as a result of American bombing. General Kusaba was forced to stop his balloon
operations soon afterwards. The normal response to being disturbed by
fire is action. A lack of action is unnatural. If the enemy behaves this way they maybe acting
cunningly. When competitors act strangely around you,
be suspicious. Lesson number 4. When the force of the flames has reached its
height, follow it up with an attack, if that is practicable; if not, stay where you are. The Northern Warlord Cao Cao took on his Southern
counterparts, Liu Bei and Sun Quan in the Battle of Red Cliffs. In an attempt to reduce seasickness in his
navy, Cao Cao chained all his ships together. Seeing this, the Southern warlords sent a
letter pretending to surrender and prepared a squadron of ships to sail over to Cao Cao’s
larger forces. The squadron actually consisted of fire ships
carrying kindling and oil. As they approached, the ships were set on
fire and the sailors jumped off onto smaller boats. The fire ships crashed into Cao Cao’s fleet
causing a large blaze and the loss of several men. After this initial shock of the impact, the
Southern allies sent an armed force to capitalise on the fire attack. There was confusion amongst the Northern troops
and their army was completely defeated, causing Cao Cao to order a retreat. When flames are at their highest, the chaos
within the enemy will also be at its peak. The best time to attack is when there is the
most confusion. However, it is not always a good idea to attack
after fire, especially when entering an unknown environment. Lesson number 5. If it is possible to make an assault with
fire from without, do not wait for it to break out within, but deliver your attack at a favorable
moment. The Castilians took on the English in a naval
battle during the Hundred Year’ War and waited for the perfect time to attack. When the tide was low, English ships were
left aground. The following morning, the Castilians used
this tactical advantage by spraying oil onto the English ships and then, from some distance
away, set fire to the ships by shooting flaming arrows onto the decks. The whole fleet was destroyed and the English
were defeated. You do not always need to enter an enemy’s
camp to set fire to it. Time your attacks to coincide with the moments
where you have the greatest advantage. Lesson number 6. When you start a fire, be to windward of it. Do not attack from the leeward. The King of Mercia, Penda, unable to capture
a castle by force, decided to set the city ablaze instead. Building a pile of flammable material such
as wood, straw and branches at the bottom of the caste, he then set fire to it. However, the wind changed direction and blew
the fire into his own men, causing the attack to be abandoned. Fire travels in the same direction as the
wind. If the wind or other environmental factors
are unpredictable, starting an attack may be dangerous for you. Take action where the outcome will be more
certain. Lesson number 7. Hence those who use fire as an aid to the
attack show intelligence; those who use water as an aid to the attack gain an accession
of strength. Fire can be used as a form of attack and defence. When the Athenians attacked the city of Syracuse
in Sicily, they lost many of their siege engines to fire when trying to break down the city
walls. Two decades later, Dionysius I had taken note
of what had occurred to the Athenians. When he was besieging the nearby city of Motya,
he organised groups of men to act as fire brigades and douse any flames when his own
siege engines were attacked. Make sure you understand all the elements
of your environment. In business, resources used to compete are
found all around you. Use creative thought to utilise them and gain
a competitive advantage. Lesson number 8. Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win
his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise; for
the result is waste of time and general stagnation. The Byzantines invented the weapon now known
as “Greek fire”. The machine, that was often positioned on
board ships, would release liquid fire in a similar way to a modern flamethrower, destroying
enemies that approached alongside. What made this interesting idea for a weapon
even more intriguing was that the flames continued to burn on the water. To this day, it is not known which ingredients
were used to create the flammable mixture used by the machine. Innovate and use the ingenuity and ideas of
people around you. Leverage people’s talents by actively encouraging
them in others, rather than suppressing them. Lesson number 9. Move not unless you see an advantage; use
not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position
is critical. Napoleon Bonaparte used many examples from
the Art of War in his military campaigns and added his own thoughts on when to use his
men. “You must avoid countermanding orders: unless
the soldier can see a good reason for benefit, he becomes discouraged and loses confidence.” Action without advantage is a waste. By acting without seeing any possible advantage,
you greatly risk disadvantage. Lesson number 10. No ruler should put troops into the field
merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique. General Ulysses Grant’s temper got the better
of him at the Battle of Cold Harbor after the trench fighting became a long and drawn
out affair. After arguing with the other officers, Grant
made it known that he was going to break through the enemy lines that day. The resulting head-on assaults on the enemy
(who were in fortified positions) led to the death of thousands of Grant’s men. Pride comes before the fall. If you are overconfident or too arrogant,
you are likely to fail. Ensure you are ruled by your head rather than
by your emotions. Don’t rely solely on gut feeling when making
decisions. Lesson number 11. Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and
the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace
and an army intact. In World War II, British Field Marshal Bernard
Montgomery was appointed as a commander in North Africa by Winston Churchill, to take
on German General Erwin Rommel. Rommel had been successful and pushed back
allied troops but Montgomery restored the Allied men’s confidence and forced Rommel
to retreat, leading to the German’s eventual surrender in Africa. Montgomery achieved this feat by being a cautious
and thorough strategist. Before any attempt at an attack, he demanded
that his men were completely ready and all the required equipment was fully available. This resulted in very slow, but steady success. It also confirmed his popularity with his
troops. Ensure you fight only when you need to and
avoid unnecessary harm.

19 thoughts on “12 Attack by Fire | The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Animated)

  1. Using fire as a weapon is as old as war itself. The Egyptians used it, the Ancient Greeks used it, as did the Romans.

    Whilst Sun Tzu talks about attacking with fire literally, the takeaway from his words in this chapter is to use the environment to your advantage.

  2. If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

  3. Non native speaker here, what is meant by "from without" in "If it is possible to make an assault with fire from without,…"? Does it mean outside?

  4. When you hear a pundit's examples of his theories and you know one to be clearly faulty..suspect them all! Bernard Montgomery made success in Africa because British codebreakers were reading Rommel's messages. Monty knew exactly where Rommel was and what were his resources. This, not his caution, gave him success. Without it he's be standing there today waiting to be ready.

  5. All that success went to Monty's head which became sadly clear with the failure of operation Market Garden.

  6. Which version of “the art of war” is this? I have a version downloaded from Gutenburg which has the 5 types of fire – barrack, commissariat, equipment, store and company burning. Where are these?

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