The Concept of Operations for the North-West War Theater

Proletarians of all countries, unite!
There is one goal, the conquest of power!


Chairman Mao Tse-tung

Selected Works, Vol. 4
Foreign Languages Press
Peking 1965
Reproduced by
The Red Flag


This telegram was sent by Chairman Mao Tse-tung to the North-West Field Army, which was then composed of the People‘s Liberation Army forces of the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia and Shansi-Suiyuan Liberated Areas and commanded by Peng Teh-huai, Ho Lung, Hsi Chung-hsun and other comrades.

1. The enemy is now quite tired, but not yet tired out. They are in considerable difficulties with their food supply, but not yet in extreme difficulties. Although our army has not destroyed any large number of the enemy‘s forces since wiping out their 31st Brigade1, in the last 20 days we have achieved the objective of tiring them and considerably reducing their food supplies, thus creating favourable conditions for tiring them out completely, cutting off all their food supplies and finally wiping them out.

2. At present, despite the enemy‘s fatigue and shortage of food, their policy is to drive our main force east across the Yellow River, then seal off Suiteh and Michih and divide their forces for „mopping-up“ operations. The enemy troops reached Chingchien on March 31st but did not advance north immediately; their purpose was to leave us a clear passage. Their advance west towards Wayaopao was designed to drive us to Suiteh and Michih. Having discovered our troops, they are now veering to the south and west of Wayaopao and then they will again advance towards that town to drive us northward.

3. Our policy is to continue our former method, that is, to keep the enemy on the run in this area for a time (about another month); the purpose is to tire them out completely, reduce their food supplies drastically and then look for an opportunity to destroy them. There is no need for our main force to hurry north to attack Yulin or south to cut off the enemy‘s retreat. It should be made clear to the commanders and fighters and also to the masses that this method of our army is the necessary road to the final defeat of the enemy. Unless we reduce the enemy to extreme fatigue and complete starvation, we cannot win final victory. This may be called the tactics of „wear and tear“, that is, of wearing the enemy down to complete exhaustion and then wiping him out.

4. As you are now in localities east and north of Wayaopao, it would be best to induce the enemy to move to the north of Wayaopao; then you may attack the weaker part of Liao Ang‘s2 forces and induce the enemy to move east; afterwards you may turn towards Ansai, and induce the enemy to move west again.

5. But within a few days you must order the entire 359th Brigade to complete its preparations for a southward drive, so that a week from now it can be sent southward to make a surprise attack on the area south of the Yenchang-Yenan line and north of the Yichuan-Lochuan line and cut the enemy‘s food transport line.

6. Please reply whether you consider the above views sound.

1Having withdrawn from Yenan on its own initiative, the North-West People‘s Liberation Army sent out a small force to lure the enemy‘s main force as far as Ansai, north-west of Yenan, while leaving its main force to ambush the enemy in the Chinghuapien sector, north-east of Yenan. On March 25th, 1947, a Kuomintang regiment of the 31st Brigade of Hu Tsung-nan‘s Reorganized 27th Division, led by the brigade headquarters, walked right into this trap and was completely destroyed in a battle lasting just over an hour.

2Liao Ang, Commander of the Reorganized 76th Division of the Kuomintang forces under Hu Tsung-nan, was later captured in a battle at Chingchien on October 11th, 1947.