STRIKE IN COMBINATION
Your first strike may not result in a breach, may not break the opponent’s equilibrium, may not place him hors de combat.
You should, therefore, strike in combination, strike multiple vital points, a single vital point multiple times, or a single vital point and multiple non-vital points. These strikes may be simultaneous or in rapid succession; some will be of greater force than others.
As the opponent reels from your first strike and begins to think how he will respond, strike again, and again, and again. “Toujours attaque,” said Napoleon: always attack.
In his war against the Habsburgs, Richelieu struck wherever he could, in Europe, America, and Asia.
Such an enfilade not only distracts the opponent from the strike or strikes at his “main body” and scatters his forces, but also demoralizes and disorients him.
To strike in combination is to dictate when, where, and how your opponent will fight. Napoleon said: “Make war offensively; it is the sole means to become a great captain and to fathom the secrets of the art.”
To strike in combination well, you must see the whole of your rival, not simply this or that force or position.
Which vital points you strike, and the order in which you strike them, depends on you, your opponent, and the context. On Richelieu’s policy in Germany, the historian Jacob Burckhardt said: “In his view Catholic, Protestant, and class passions were all there to be exploited. The question of which should be exploited in any given instance was purely a tactical one, to be determined by considerations of time and place.”
Your strikes should be varied and creative. The historian Robin Lane Fox observed that “the expert use of varied weaponry [was] the main principle of Alexander’s military success.”