Military Lessons from the Game Go (Wei Qi)

Go is often compared to Chess. My favorite quote is that Chess is a battle, Go is a war. Go is all about the essence of using scarce resources for maximum effect.

I think the most interesting part of Go is that you are attempting to surround empty space. The idea that the land itself is valuable, but only if not occupied by soldiers. If soldiers are using up the resources of the land, it cannot be used for other purposes.

Territory must be defended to be valuable. People can only produce if they feel safe in their homes.

Where one party attacks is where the other party defends. Whereas the insurgents in Iraq were able to kill many soldier’s in a dining tent, now the whole region has overhead cover against mortar fire.

Defending inefficiently can cause the whole effort to collapse under it’s own weight. The American way of waging war is very resource intensive. We may win the region, but cripple our ability to counter threats elsewhere.

There is a Go Koan that says to attach for defense. If you want to make your opponent spend resources in an area, get close enough to attack that area, and do so visibly.

Stones live by being connected to other stones. An Army lives by it’s supply lines. An Army can forage only for so long before it needs to get food from somewhere else. The ideal is to have a secured line back to where your food comes from. In todays motorized world, oil is even more important than food, as you need oil to move food.

Efficiency matters. You don’t have the resources to do everything. Make sure you do the things that you absolutely have to do.

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