Functional Tactics

One popular tactical framework is presented in The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise dating from the Spring and Autumn period in 5th century BC. The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu ("Master Sun", also spelled Sunzi), is composed of 13 chapters (Wikipedia).

  1. Detail Assessment and Planning (Chinese: 始計,始计) explores the five fundamental factors (the Way, seasons, terrain, leadership, and management) and seven elements that determine the outcomes of military engagements. By thinking, assessing and comparing these points, a commander can calculate his chances of victory. Habitual deviation from these calculations will ensure failure via improper action. The text stresses that war is a very grave matter for the state and must not be commenced without due consideration.
  2. Waging War (Chinese: 作戰,作战) explains how to understand the economy of warfare and how success requires winning decisive engagements quickly. This section advises that successful military campaigns require limiting the cost of competition and conflict.
  3. Strategic Attack (Chinese: 謀攻,谋攻) defines the source of strength as unity, not size, and discusses the five factors that are needed to succeed in any war. In order of importance, these critical factors are: Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army and Cities.
  4. Disposition of the Army (Chinese: 軍形,军形) explains the importance of defending existing positions until a commander is capable of advancing from those positions in safety. It teaches commanders the importance of recognizing strategic opportunities, and teaches not to create opportunities for the enemy.
  5. Forces (Chinese: 兵勢,兵势) explains the use of creativity and timing in building an army's momentum.
  6. Weaknesses and Strengths (Chinese: 虛實,虚实) explains how an army's opportunities come from the openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of the enemy and how to respond to changes in the fluid battlefield over a given area.
  7. Military Maneuvers (Chinese: 軍爭,军争) explains the dangers of direct conflict and how to win those confrontations when they are forced upon the commander.
  8. Variations and Adaptability (Chinese: 九變,九变) focuses on the need for flexibility in an army's responses. It explains how to respond to shifting circumstances successfully.
  9. Movement and Development of Troops (Chinese: 行軍,行军) describes the different situations in which an army finds itself as it moves through new enemy territories, and how to respond to these situations. Much of this section focuses on evaluating the intentions of others.
  10. Terrain (Chinese: 地形) looks at the three general areas of resistance (distance, dangers and barriers) and the six types of ground positions that arise from them. Each of these six field positions offers certain advantages and disadvantages.
  11. The Nine Battlegrounds (Chinese: 九地) describes the nine common situations (or stages) in a campaign, from scattering to deadly, and the specific focus that a commander will need in order to successfully navigate them.
  12. Attacking with Fire (Chinese: 火攻) explains the general use of weapons and the specific use of the environment as a weapon. This section examines the five targets for attack, the five types of environmental attack and the appropriate responses to such attacks.
  13. Intelligence and Espionage (Chinese: 用間,用间) focuses on the importance of developing good information sources, and specifies the five types of intelligence sources and how to best manage each of them.