(Last Updated on : 24-12-2010)
Distinction between Strong and Weak Troops has been one of the crucial jobs of a commander in chief who is in charge of observing the daily progress of all the soldiers in the king's army. Chapter V of Book X in Arthashastra
mentions the responsibility of the commander in chief who shall differentiate between the strong and the weak enemy. Arthashastra claims that the best army is the one which consists of strong infantry and of such elephants and horses which are well known for their breed, birth, strength, youth, vitality, capacity too run even in odd age, fury, skill, firmness, magnanimity, obedience and good habit.
Distinction between Strong and Weak Troops further explains that one-third of the best of infantry, cavalry and elephants should be kept in front; two-thirds on both the flanks and wings; the array of the army according to the strength of its constituents should be placed in the direct order; while the arrayed mixing one-third of strong and weak troops should be placed in behind. Thus, one should know all the varieties of arraying the army. Having stationed the weak troops at the extremities, one would be liable to the force of the enemy's onslaught. As such one should keep one-third of the best army in the rear, and weak troops in the centre which shall be able to resist the enemy from the sides as well; having made an array, he should strike the enemy with one or two of the divisions on the wings, flanks and front, and capture the enemy by means of the rest of the troops. It suggests that when the enemy's force is weak, with few horses and elephants, and is contaminated with the intrigue of treacherous ministers, the conqueror should strike it with most of his best troops. He should increase the numerical strength of that constituent of the army which is physically weak. He should array his troops on that side on which the enemy is weak or from which danger is apprehended.
Distinction between Strong and Weak Troops further lays down some forms of waging war. This includes running against; running round; running beyond; running back; disturbing the enemy's halt; gathering the troops; curving, circling, miscellaneous operations; removal of the rear; pursuit of the line from the front, flanks and rear; protection of the broken army; and falling upon the broken army. Miscellaneous operations denote the activities like destruction of the four constituencies of the army, either single or combined; the dispersion of flanks, wings and fronts trampling down; and attacking the army when it is sleepy. These can be executed with the help of the elephants. The same shall remain in case of disturbing the enemy's halt where running against, running back and fighting from where it stands on its own ground are some of the methods which can be applied through the use of chariots. Striking in all places and at all times and striking by surprises are the varieties of war waging with the help of the infantry. In such cases he should make odd and even arrays of soldiers and keep the strength of the army equal on all constituents; having gone through a distance of 200 bows, the king should take his position together with his reverse army as it is only with the reverse army that the king shall be able to recollect the dispersed army.
Thus, Distinction between Strong and Weak Troops provides a guide to the commander in chief who is supposed to look through the minute intricacies involved in rearranging the troops according to its strength and skills.