Strategy 19 : Removing the Firewood From Under the Stove

@@In the fourth year of Han emperor Sian's Jian An period, the biggest threat to Cao Cao was Yuan Shao who was entrenched in the north.

@@The next year, the two armies formally engaged in battle at Yang Wu. The strength of Cao Cao's forces numbered far less than Yuan Shao's army of one hundred thousand. Furthermore, Cao Cao's food supply was running low, and his soldiers were exhausted. It was a really bad situation for Cao Cao. However, at this time, Syu You, the advisor to Yuan Shao, unexpectedly chose to defect to the side of Cao Cao.
@@Cao Cao asked Syu You for ideas on how to fight Yuan Shao. Syu You suggested that instead of a frontal attack against Yuan Shao's larger force, it is better to use win by wit. He informed Cao Cao that the food supply for the Yuan army was stored at a placed called Wu Chao, and its defense was minimal. Syu You suggested a raid to burn down the barns where all the food was stored. A sudden cut in food supply for all one hundred thousand soldiers would surely reduce the strength of the Yuan army.
@@Indeed, when Yuan Shao heard the news of the fire, he sent some of his troops to rescue the food supply. Of course, their efforts were in vain. Apart from that, Yuan Shao's main force which headed for Guan Du, where the Cao army was encamped, was defeated as well. Without food, the morale of his troops soon collapsed. The soldiers either fled or were killed. As a result, Yuan Shao's army of one hundred thousand strong was reduced to a mere twenty thousand. As a consequence, Yuan Shao's regime collapsed.
Strategy 19: Removing the Firewood From Under the Stove
@@ The best way to stop the water from boiling is to remove the firewood from the stove. In other words, you've got to solve a problem by tackling its source. Here it means you don't have to defeat an enemy by defeating it on the battlefield. Instead, you can use other means to weaken the strength and the morale of the enemy.