Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


September 16, 1946

[This inner-Party directive was drafted by Comrade Mao Tse-tung for the Revolutionary Military Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.]

1. The method of fighting by concentrating a superior force to destroy the enemy forces [1] one by one must be employed not only in the disposition of troops for a campaign but also in the disposition of troops for a battle.

2. With regard to the disposition for a campaign, when the enemy employs many brigades [2] (or regiments) and advances against our army from several directions, our army must concentrate an absolutely superior force -- six, five, four or at least three times the enemy strength -- and pick an opportune moment to encircle and wipe out one enemy brigade (or regiment) first. It should be one of the enemy's weaker brigades (or regiments), or one that has less support, or one stationed where the terrain and the people are most favourable to us and unfavourable to the enemy. We should tie down the rest of the enemy brigades (or regiments) with small forces in order to prevent them from rushing reinforcements to the brigade (or regiment) we are encircling and attacking so that we can destroy it first. When this has been achieved, we should, according to the circumstances, either wipe out one or several more enemy brigades or retire to rest and consolidate for further fighting. (Here are two examples of the former. Our troops under the command of Su Yu and Tan Chen-lin wiped out five thousand of the enemy's communications police corps [3] near Jukao on August 22, one enemy brigade on August 26 and one and a half brigades on August 27.[4] Our troops under Liu Po-cheng and Teng Hsiao-ping annihilated one enemy brigade near Tingtao between September 3 and 6,another in the afternoon of September 6 and two more on September 7-8.[5] ) In the disposition for a campaign, we must reject the wrong method of fighting, which underrates the enemy and therefore divides our forces to deal with all the enemy detachments, for by this method we cannot destroy even one enemy detachment but will land ourselves in a passive position.

3. In the disposition for a battle, when we have concentrated an absolutely superior force and encircled one of the enemy detachments (a brigade or regiment), our attacking formations (or units) should not attempt to wipe out all the encircled enemy simultaneously at one swoop and thus divide themselves and strike everywhere without enough strength anywhere, losing time and making it hard to get results. Instead, we should concentrate an absolutely superior force, that is to say, a force six, five, four or at least three times that of the enemy, concentrate the whole or the bulk of our artillery, select one (not two) of the weak spots in the enemy's positions, attack it fiercely and be sure to win. This accomplished, swiftly exploit the victory and destroy the enemy forces one by one.

4. The effects of this method of fighting are, first, complete annihilation and, second, quick decision. Only complete annihilation can deal the most telling blows to the enemy, for when we wipe out one regiment, he will have one regiment less, and when we wipe out one brigade, he will have one brigade less. This method is most useful when employed against an enemy lacking second-line troops. Only complete annihilation can replenish our own forces to the greatest possible extent. It is now not only the main source of our arms and ammunition, but also an important source of our manpower. Complete annihilation demoralizes the enemy's troops and depresses his followers; it raises the morale of our troops and inspires our people. A quick decision makes it possible for our troops either to wipe out the enemy reinforcements one by one or evade them. Quick decision in battle and campaign is a necessary condition for the strategy of a protracted war.

5. Among our military cadres there are still many who, when not in action, approve the principle of concentrating our forces to wipe out the enemy forces one by one, but often fail to apply it in action. That is due to underestimation of the enemy and to lack of intensive education and study. It is necessary to cite detailed cases of past battles to explain again and again the advantages of this method of fighting and to point out that it is the chief method of defeating Chiang Kai-shek's attacks. Using this method we shall win. Acting counter to it we shall lose.

6. The principle of concentrating our forces to wipe out the enemy forces one by one has been a fine tradition of our army ever since its founding more than a decade ago; this is not the first time it has been put forward. During the War of Resistance Against Japan, however, the dispersal of our forces for guerrilla warfare was primary, and the concentration of our forces for mobile warfare was supplementary. In the present civil war, as conditions have changed, so should the method of fighting. The concentration of our forces for mobile warfare should be primary, and the dispersal of our forces for guerrilla warfare should be supplementary. Now that Chiang Kai-shek's army has acquired more powerful weapons, it is necessary for our army to lay special stress on the method of concentrating a superior force to wipe out the enemy forces one by one.

7. When the enemy is on the offensive and we are on the defensive, this method must be employed. However, when the enemy is on the defensive and we are on the offensive, we should distinguish between two kinds of situations and adopt different methods. When our force is big and the enemy in that locality is rather weak, or when we are making a surprise attack on the enemy, we may strike at several of his units simultaneously. For example, between June 5 and 10, our troops in Shantung Province simultaneously attacked and captured more than ten towns on the Tsingtao-Tsinan and the Tientsin-Pukow Railways.[6] Or to take another example, between August 10 and 21, our troops under Liu Po-cheng and Teng Hsiao-ping attacked and captured more than ten towns along the section of the Lunghai Railway between Kaifeng and Hsuchow.[7] On the other hand, when we do not have enough forces, we should seize the enemy-occupied towns one by one and should not attack the enemy at several towns simultaneously. That was how our forces in Shansi Province took the towns along the Tatung-Puchow Railway.[8]

8. When the main force of our troops is concentrated to annihilate the enemy, it must co-ordinate its operations with vigorous activities by the regional formations, local guerrillas and people's militia. When regional formations (or troops) attack an enemy regiment, battalion or company, they should also adopt the principle of concentrating our forces to annihilate the enemy forces one by one.

9. The principle of concentrating our forces to wipe out the enemy forces one by one is aimed chiefly at annihilating the enemy's effective strength, not at holding or seizing a place. In some circumstances, it is permissible to abandon certain places for the purpose of concentrating our forces to wipe out the enemy or of enabling our main force to avoid heavy enemy attacks and to facilitate rest and consolidation for further fighting. So long as we are able to wipe out the enemy's effective strength on a large scale, it will be possible to recover lost territory and seize new territory. Therefore, all those who succeed in destroying the enemy's effective strength should be commended. This applies not only to those who destroy the enemy's regular forces but also to those who destroy his peace preservation corps, home-going contingents [9] and other reactionary local armed bands. However, we must hold or seize territory wherever the relative strength of the enemy and our own forces makes this possible or wherever such territory is significant for our campaigns or battles; to do otherwise would be a mistake. Therefore, those who succeed in holding or seizing such territory should also be commended.


1. The expressions "to destroy the enemy", "to wipe out the enemy" and "to annihilate the enemy" are used as synonyms in this book. They all include enemy troops killed, wounded and captured. To wipe out (annihilate, destroy) an enemy force means either to wipe it out completely or to wipe out the major part of that force.

2. A regular corps of the Kuomintang army originally consisted of three (sometimes two) divisions, each with three regiments. Beginning in May 1946 the Kuomintang regular troops south of the Yellow River were reorganized in stages; what had been a corps became a reorganized division and with three (sometimes two) regiments. Part of the Kuomintang troops north of the Yellow River were not reorganized, and their designations remained the same. Some of the reorganized divisions later reverted to their original designation of corps.

3. The communications police corps of the Kuomintang was formed in March 1945. Following Japan's surrender, the corps was deployed along communication lines for "garrison duties" under the pretext of guarding the railways, but actually to carry on secret police activities. It was one of the forces the Kuomintang used for fighting the civil war.

4. In July 1946 the Kuomintang forces began a large-scale invasion of the Kiangsu-Anhwei Liberated Area, and our army fought bravely in self-defence. The Kuomintang troops attacking the Central Kiangsu Liberated Area consisted of fifteen brigades with about 120,000 men under Tang En-po. From July 13 to August 27, eighteen regiments of the Eastern China People's Liberation Army, commanded by Su Yu, Tan Chen-lin and other comrades, concentrated superior forces and fought seven successive battles in the region of Taihsing, Jukao, Hai-an and Shaopai in central Kiangsu. Our forces wiped out six enemy brigades and five battalions of the enemy's communications police corps. The text refers to the results of two of these battles.

5. In August 1946 the Kuomintang forces advanced along two routes from the Hsuchow and Chengchow sectors and attacked the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan Liberated Area. The People's Liberation Army of this area, under the command of Liu Po-cheng, Teng Hsiao-ping and other comrades, concentrated superior forces to engage the enemy detachment advancing from Chengchow. Between September 3 and 8 they wiped out four enemy brigades in succession in the region of Hotse, Tingtao and Tsaohsien in Shantung Province.

6. Early in June 1946 the Shantung People's Liberation Army sent an expedition against the puppet troops along the Tsingtao-Tsinan and Tientsin-Pukow Railways and liberated more than ten towns, including Chiaohsien, Changtien, Choutsun, Tehchow, Tai-an and Tsaochuang.

7. From August 10 to 21, 1946, the Shansi-Hopei-Shantung-Honan People's Liberation Army, supporting the Central Plains and Eastern China People's Liberation Armies, moved by several routes and attacked the enemy troops stationed along the Kaifeng-Hsuchow section of the Lunghai Railway, capturing more than ten towns, including Tangshan, Lanfeng, Huangkou, Lichuang and Yangchi.

8. In July 1946 the Kuomintang forces under Hu Tsung-nan and Yen Hsi-shan jointly attacked the Southern Shansi Liberated Area. The Taiyueh units of the Shansi-Hopei- Shantung-Honan People's Liberation Army and a part of the Shansi-Suiynan People's Liberation Army counter-attacked and beat back the enemy in southern Shansi. In August they started an offensive against the enemy between Linfen and Lingshih along the Tatung-Puchow Railway and liberated the towns of Hungtung, Chaocheng, Huohsien, Lingshih and Fenhsi.

9. During the People's War of Liberation some landlords and local tyrants in the Liberated Areas fled to the Kuomintang areas. They were organized by the Kuomintang into "home-going contingents", "home-going legions" and other reactionary armed bands to attack the Liberated Areas together with the Kuomintang troops. Everywhere they robbed, killed and committed all kinds of atrocities.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung