This military treatise is attributed to a figure named Wei Liao (also read Yu Liao; 4th–3rd cent. BC, Warring States period), said to be student of the legist Shang Yang. He appears to be a strict military theoretician as his book is almost devoid of actual tactics.
King Hui of Liang inquired Weiliaozi: "Is it true that the Yellow Emperor, through punishments and virtue, achieved a hundred victories without defeat?"
Weiliaozi replied: "Punishment was employed to attack the rebellious, virtue was employed to preserve the people. This is not what is referred to as heavenly offices, auspicious hours and days, yin and yang, were a matter of human effort, that is ass. Why was that?
Now if there is a fortified city and one attacks it from the east and west but cannot tke it, and attacks from the south and north but cannot take it, can it be that all four directions failed to accord with an auspicious moment that could be exploited? If you still cannot take it, it is because the walls are high, the moats deep, the weapons and implements fully prepared, the materials and grains accumulated in great quantitite, and their valiant soldiers unified in their plans. If the wall is low, the moats shallow, and the defenses weak, then it can be taken. From this perspective, moments, seasons, and Heavenly offices are not as important as human effort…
Orders for severe punishments
If a general commanding one thousand men ore more retreats from battle, surrenders his defenses, or abandons his terrain and deserts his troops, he is termed a state brigand. He should be executed, his family exterminated, his name expunged from the registers, his ancestral graves broken open, his bones exposed in the marketplace, and his male and femals children pressed into government servitude. If the commander of one hundred or more men retreats from battle, surrenders his defenses, or abandons his terrain and deserts his troops, he is termed an army brigand. He should be executed, his family exterminated, and his male and femals children pressed into government servitude.
If you cause the people to fear heavy punishments within the state, then outside the state they will regard the enemy lightly. Thus the former kings made the regulations and measures clear before making their awesomeness and punishments heavy. When punishments are heavy, then they will fear them within the state. When they fear them within the state, then they will be stalwart outside it.
Orders for the vanguard
What is referred to as the vanguard moves off from the main force about one hundred li [about 50 km], assembling at a designated place and an appointed time. It carries a three-day supply of prepared food. It moves in front of the main army. Pennants are made for uniting to engage in battle. Then when a pennant for engaging a battle is raised, the vanguard feasts its solders and has them deploy into a strategic configuration of power for battle. They are referred to as racing to battle.
The advance army moves in front of the vanguard. When the pennant for engaging in battle is raised, it moves off from the main force double the vanguard’s distance – about one hundred li ahead of the vanguard – assembling at a designated palce and time. They carry a six-day supply of prepared food. They are ordered to prepare for the battle and deploy troops to occupy the strategic positions. If the battle turns to the army’s advantage, they pursue the retreting enemy; if the forces are stalemated, they cace into the enemy. If the vanguard encounters anyone wo had turned back, they should execute him. What are termed the armies of the various generals, consisting of four unorthodox forces, will wrest victory.
The army has its squads of ten and the methods of dividing and reuniting. Before engaging in battle duties are assigned, and designated units should occupy the strategic locations, passes, and bridges. When the pennant for uniting to engage in battle is raised, they should all assemble. The main army sets out with a fixed daily ration and their combat equipment all complete. The orders are issued and they move; anyone who does not follow orders is executed…