Generals Also Need to Know Science
Of these points some are learnt by experience, some
5. Knowledge of localities.
from history, and others by the study of
scientific strategy. It is a most excellent thing
too that the general should have a personal
knowledge both of the roads, and the locality which he has
to reach, and its natural features; as well as of the persons by
whom and with whom he is to act. If that is not possible, the
next best thing is that he should make careful inquiries and
not trust just any one: and men who undertake to act as
guides to such places should always deposit security with
those whom they are conducting.
These,—and other points like them, it is perhaps possible
6. Accurate knowledge of natural
phenomena enabling a general to make accurate calculation of time.
that leaders may learn sufficiently from the mere
study of strategy, whether practical or in books.
But scientific investigation requires scientific
processes and demonstrations, especially in
astronomy and geometry; the working out of
which is not much to our present point, though
their results are important, and may contribute largely to the
success of such undertakings.
The most important operation in astronomy is the calculation of the lengths of the days and nights. If these had been
uniform it would not have been a matter requiring any study,
but the knowledge would have been common to all the world:
since however they not only differ with each other but also
with themselves, it is plainly necessary to be acquainted with
the increase and diminution of both the one and the other.
How can a man calculate a march, and the distance practicable
in a day or in a night, if he is unacquainted with the variation of
these periods of time? In fact nothing can be done up to time
without this knowledge,—it is inevitable otherwise that a man
should be sometimes too late and sometimes too soon. And
these operations are the only ones in which being too soon is a
worse fault than being too late. For the general who overstays
the proper hour of action only misses his chance, since he can
find out that he has done so before he arrives, and so get off
safely: but he that anticipates the hour is detected when he
comes up; and so not only misses his immediate aim, but runs
a risk of ruining himself altogether.