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The Medlock Doctrine on use of military force

Posted by John Reed on

Mike Medlock is the President of the United States in my forthcoming novel The Unelected President. He has a very different approach to military force than any prior president, but I argue it is based on common sense, which is an uncommon virtue in government and the U.S. military is government.

The basic principle is the U.S. should use military force as a last resort, but that when it is used it should do maximum possible harm to the enemy’s ability to hurt or threaten us in the shortest possible period of time at the least cost in blood and treasure to the American people. Winning the war is the goal and absent that goal, no military action.

‘Change from the seat cushions’

Furthermore, Medlock is fond of doing military operations that are funded by the “change found in the seat cushions of military vehicles,” as he puts it, and that have zero U.S. casualties, and wars that are over in an hour or a matter of days.

America has rarely done that in the past for the simple reason that they have never tried. Generals are famous for fighting the last war. The problem is the civilian leaders of the U.S. military—mostly draft dodgers lately—defer to the dopey generals. We are still fighting Word War II in Europe, which we won 70 years ago.

Here is the Medlock Doctrine which I need to articulate for the purposes of getting my thinking straight for the novel and putting it here and getting some feedback will probably make the book better.

1. Don’t fight a war if someone else will fight it for you. Trump recently said this about Russian fighting IS in Syria. He’s right. I previously said it when I said the U.S. and its western allies should have let the Soviets fight the Germans longer during World War II, and with less U.S. materiel support. Is there a downside in the sense of Russia taking more territory as they did in the Warsaw Pact countries? A. If we were fresh and had not yet done much fighting compared to the exhausted Russians, we could have simply told them get the hell out of those countries and enforced it with military action if necessary. B. Letting Russia adopt countries like Syria and Cuba and Egypt back in the Cold War bankrupts them. They can’t afford to subsidize those countries.

2. Stop using the usual military methods. Instead, use the absolute lowest cost no method for each target. We bombed the hell out of Iraq during the Iraq war and achieved air supremacy—that is, we could fly piper cubs over their country and they could not do anything about it. They had no air force and no anti-aircraft weapons left. But we did that at great expense and we had some pilots shot down and captured and maybe some killed.

Forget that. What is the cheapest way to total an enemy fighter jet? Probably to shoot one .50 cal tracer bullet into its fuel tank while it is sitting on a tarmac. And what is the cheapest low-casualty way to make that happen? Probably to have a helicopter drone with a .50 cal land briefly on such a runway on a moonless night and fire one shot into each enemy plane then leave.

Cost? Fuel for the drone (a battery charge) and the cost of each bullet—$2.20 per round bought at retail—the government could probably get a better deal from bulk purchases. Indeed, they probably have tens of thousands of rounds already that are nearing their expiration date so the incremental cost would be zero.

Thermite grenades can also total a lot of military equipment and infrastructure. I could not find a cost on the Internet. But lots of pages on how to make them with ordinarily available chemicals. I would guess they cost about $20 each. There are a couple sitting on top of every safe in the military and all battalions and above have safes for code books. In other words, it’s not some exotic item.

How do you set them on top of the target tank or jet or missile? With an Amazon-style, octocopter, delivery drone when the target equipment is parked.

3. Use drones wherever possible. There are or could be air drones, ground drones, water surface drones, and undersea drones. Missiles are disposable, one-way drones. They are cheaper to acquire and operate, can be reused when that is the most cost-effective approach, and are unstoppable when they travel at hypersonic speeds—like ICBMs, or are tiny or stealthy (no radar appearance) or hug the ground in their approach. Manned vehicles are extremely expensive in contrast and result in KIA, WIA and POWs. F’get about it.

4. Cutting off enemy supplies of food, water, fuel, and materiel is often far easier and cheaper and faster than traditional military tactics. When you can kill the enemy from thirst or starvation or render him impotent from lack of fuel or other necessities, prefer that approach.

5. When necessary, attack bottlenecks, nodes, weakest links, and hubs.

Seafaring examples include the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, the Strait of Hormuz,the Bosphorus Strait, Bab el Mandeb (the strait between Yemen on the east and Eritrea and Djibouti on the West at the south end of the Red Sea; the Suez Canal is at the north end), the Kattegatt Strait between Denmark and Sweden, the Strait of Gibraltar, the many Indonesian straits between Singapore and Australia, the many straits between Sakhalin Island and Indonesia, the Bering Strait, the St. Lawerence Seaway, and the many straits in the Caribbean between Florida and Venezuela. Also the Strait of Magellan and the Cape of Good Hope which ships and subs try to hug as they go around the bottoms of South America and Africa.

Land bridges like Central America, Egypt, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan.

Major all-weather ports (

Railroad nodes—mainly Moscow which apparently became a super node during the Soviet Union. There are so many railroads in America and Europe that there are no nodes. Eastern Europe has some nodes in Budapest, Zagreb, Belgrade, and Istanbul. China does not appear to have a vulnerable node.

Weakest links in long “chains”—TranSiberian railway; “Silk Road” railroad between Madrid and Shangahai; TransCanada Railroad; Australia’s Indian Pacific, Northern Territory, and east coat railroads. Also, military equipment and military units require lots of supplies on a daily basis. For the want of a nail. What the weakest link is aries by situation. For example, for Japanese soldiers on Tarawa atoll it was probably water. Batteries are crucial to military units that rely on radios to coordinate, also clear, unjammed frequencies over which to communicate.

6. Attack economic glass houses. Iran is a mighty military power, right? They are pushing their Shia caliphate expansion with military activities going on in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Where do they get the money for that? Oil and gas. And how does oil and gas get from wells to users and export? Pipes that lie out in the open over vast stretches of ground and on the bottom of the international waters of the Persian Gulf. For domestic oil consumption, they also have delicate, complex, expensive industrial facilities called refineries lying out in the open.

It has been said that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. People who fund their military and half of everything in their country with the use of oil and gas pipelines and refineries should not commit acts of war against a modern military power who has the will to react militarily. This is especially true if they also export 98% of their oil and gas from one island called Kharg and through one strait called Hormuz. 

How do you stop the oil or gas from going through the pipe? One hole per pipe will cause automatic sensors to shut it down. You can make the hole with a thermite grenade or maybe a high energy bullet like a .50 cal. Certainly a high-velocity, depleted uranium round like the A-10s fire at tanks. The hole will be repaired. Then you make another one.

7. Prefer military operations with a very high ratio of cost to the enemy to repair to cost to inflict.

8. Prefer other weapons to bullets, explosions, and fire. For example, the Iranian oil and gas pipes under the salt water Persian Gulf require cathodic protection to prevent corrosion. So eliminate the cathodic protection with SEALs or submersible drones. You can disable the cathodic protection by disconnecting the sacrificial anode and/or the DC electric current generator. Sugaring fuel tanks for military engines would be another way.  

There are also acids, rust, oil-eating bacteria, cyberwarfare, and dropping smart bombs that are nothing but heavy objects.

9. Use natural forces to transport weapons or to damage enemy targets. Wind, ocean and river currents, freezing temperatures can deliver damaging devices or themselves cause damage. During World War II, Japan delivered incendiary and explosive devices to the Northwest using balloons. Did it work? A little bit. They needed to refine it. And they were doing it from 4,800 miles away. It no doubt works better from much shorter distances. Water grows 10% in size when it freezes exerting a force of something like 100,000 pounds per square inch. Accordingly, structures in freezing climates use caulk and other protective measures to prevent water from getting into narrow spaces between structure components or structure components and a rock. Merely puncturing such protection could be enough to destroy the structure in question when subsequent rains and freezing temperatures arrive.

Gravity is another natural force that can be used for military purposes. Liquids flow downhill including weapon liquids like flammable liquids and corrosive ones. Local, dangerous liquids located above enemy underground facilities or uphill from ground level facilities—like a fuel storage tank—might be easily unleashed on those lower targets. With regard to underground enemy facilities, this is also true of non-poisonous, heavier-than-air gases like carbon dioxide, propane, butane, ethane, oxygen, xenon, krypton, radon. In basements and mines, heavier than air but non-poisonous gases support neither air nor combustion. In other words by pushing the oxygen up and out, such gases would suffocate the people and extinguish any fire-using manufacturing processes.

Underground facilities would typically have detectors for CO2 and flammable gases, but not for oxygen or the other gases. Putting oxygen into oil or gas pipelines or underground manufacturing facilities would likely cause explosions or fires, and we could cause the spark insuring that they did. Underground facilities also typically have air vents vertically above them. Such vents work two ways unless they have fans continuously blowing upward. That, of course, requires an air-intake shaft somewhere. Gases can also be introduced into underground facilities via doors and elevator shafts.

10. Make sure the commander in chief has legal authority to take the action in question.

11. Consider what can the enemy do in response.

12. Consider what is the enemy likely to do in response?

13. Consider what enemy ally(ies) might respond and how?

14. Make as many enemy lookouts as possible give false alarms then, when they stop believing the lookout who cried ‘wolf,’ send the ‘wolf.’

15. Openly recruit saboteurs and spies among the enemy’s own populace and native-born diaspora.

16. Warn innocents to stay away from those who have declared themselves to be our military enemies.

17. The rule of engagement for the military is to attack enemy military targets promptly with the smallest munition that is available and adequate without regard to hostages, human shields, and collateral damage.

18. U.S. forces should generally only engage enemy forces from outside of the range of the enemy’s weapons or by use of unmanned drones.

19. Where possible, the U.S. should train and equip trustworthy allied locals in combat areas to act as enemy target locators and fire adjusters for our artillery and/or air weapons

20. So-called stealth soldiers, namely SEALs, rangers, Delta Force, and so on, must not be used except within a few miles of substantial friendly forces on land or at sea, and then only where the terrain is unpopulated, densely vegetated, and devoid of dogs or farm animals and the weather is other than extreme.

21. U.S. Navy surface ships must not go within range of enemies who can launch attacks with so many missiles/planes and boats that their defenses may be overwhelmed by sheer numbers of simultaneous, incoming weapons.

22. All active-duty and reserve U.S. military personnel will have combat as their primary job and will spend most of their time on combat and preparation for combat. All ceremonial, musical, and “show-biz” demonstration-team jobs and activities are permanently terminated. Any required ceremonial duties, like military funerals or occasional parades, will be performed by combat personnel as an additional ad hoc assignment.

23. The U.S. military will experiment with units that are hired on an ad hoc basis for a single mission. These units will be like a sheriff’s posse sworn in for the duration of the mission, selected, equipped, and trained exclusively by its commander and need not include any current or prior U.S. military personnel or current U.S. uniforms or equipment. But it will be required to comply with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and pertinent international treaties like the Geneva Conventions. Overall, they will be compensated as a group by satisfying the terms of Letters of Marque as authorized by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. In other words, they will be like bounty hunters or privateers.

Only the commander will be hired by the U.S. government. He will determined how the bounty compensation is to be split among his subordinates. If the mission is not accomplished, the unit will not be paid. Even if the mission is accomplished, there will be no salaries or pensions. In-line-of-duty injuries and disabilities will be paid for by the U.S. government. The unit will be exempt from traditional U.S. military chickenshit like calling officers “sir” and saluting them unless the commander chooses to require them.

24. Promotions and assignments will be based on merit, military need, and requests by the personnel themselves. No one will be moved to another assignment routinely. As long as the individual in question is doing a good job, is not needed elsewhere, and there is no reason to believe another would do better in that job, the individual will stay in that job. No more routine moving every one to three years for no particular reason. This is how civilian multinational companies work. Except for a few “crown prince” promising executives who will be moved around to get to know the whole company, competent personnel will generally remain where they are.

Classroom continuing education will be done by correspondence. Students will only travel to schools that require specific equipment (like simulators) or specific terrain. Diversity of gender and race is no longer a goal of the U.S. military.

25. The service academies will be closed or used for purposes more directly related to the needs of the national defense. There is no military need for four-year college graduates that cannot be filled by the 1.5 million graduates per year from America’s 3,000 such colleges. 

26. There is no top-down U.S. policy on leaving military comrades living or dead behind in combat. The commanders on the ground in question will make such decisions on the basis of first, accomplishment of the mission, second, the welfare of the within-the-perimeter personnel in the unit, and third the desirability of generally not leaving a man behind. The only absolute priority is accomplishment of the mission. The welfare of the men still in the unit is secondary. Any efforts to rescue wounded men outside the perimeter or to recover bodies of the KIA must only be done if they do not adversely affect the unit’s ability to perform its mission.

27. The U.S. need not and will not respond to every provocation from terrorists or hostile governments.

28. The U.S. should give NATO  a month or two to start spending 2% of their GDP on defense and if they refuse, leave NATO. The population of Europe and Canada exceeds that of Russia by a factor of about three or four. Europe’s and Canada’s wealth is ten times that of Russia. Europe will freeload on us for defense as long as we let them, but they no longer need us they way they might have in the late 1940s. They should have been weaned away from us a long time ago.

29. Only valor-in-combat medals may be worn above the right breast pocket. Only valor medals won in a war that we won may be worn above the left beast pocket. Medals for being a good bureaucrat or for being in a certain place can be awarded but not worn by active-duty personnel. Airborne wings may only be worn by members of units currently drawing jump pay. Ranger tabs may only be worn by members who are currently in ranger regiments. Ditto SEAL and pilot badges. Medals for valor will be distributed among the ranks and job descriptions in the same proportion that purple hearts are awarded to the rank and MOS in question. For example, if 20% of the purple hearts in a battle go to 11B spec fours, 20% of the silver stars awarded in that battle will go to the spec fours. And if 0% of the majors get purple hearts, 0% of them will get silver stars. Enough of getting bravery medals because you are an officer.

30. Training deaths will likely result in the end of the careers of several layers of the chain of command above the decedent. 

31. Based on recent (1950 to present) experience, the ranks of the Army and Marines and surface Navy personnel will be dramatically reduced and the number of unmanned aircraft, vehicles, and vessels and their remote-control operators will be dramatically increased.

32. Military compensation including pay, pensions, and health benefits will be reduced and compensation for winning wars will be increase. Winning will be rewarded; hanging around for twenty years will not.

33. If a Middle Eastern country hates us or has a civil war, that is their problem and maybe the problem of the other Middle Eastern countries and Europe. The U.S. has no interest in such Eastern Hemisphere, domestic or regional matters. If, however, that country or non-state group is rich and expresses a desire to hurt the U.S., the U.S. military will make them sufficiently less rich such that they are no longer a credible threat to us.

34. Latin America is a military policy-free zone. Other than pirates, Africa is a military-policy free zone. Disputed territorial claims in the vicinity of China will be decided by international courts like the one that decided a dispute between the U.S. and Mexico (in Mexico’s favor). The U.S. will behave as if international boundaries are unchanged since V-J Day until such an international court decision decision changes them.

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  • Re De Lister. Thanks. The bottom line is centered. Both lines are left justified. I will probably change the words and I’ll see how the new words fit then.

    John T. Reed on
  • O/T but on the cover of your novel, the line “What if we had a president” is off-center.

    I don’t know if you did this for stylistic reasons, but to me it is off-putting.

    Jackie DeLister on
  • Mark, Yeah, exactly. I had forgotten about the Desert Rats, which was a TV series. They are good example of bravery triumphing over common sense. And the discussion of pilots versus planes is what Medlock is talking about. Where is the weakest link in the chain? Planes are no good without pilots and vice versa. Which is easier to destroy? Which is harder to replace? In World War II, America did a great job of replacing both pilots and planes. Germany and Japan did an okay job of replacing planes, but a lousy job of replacing pilots. And fuel goes to the “countries who live in glass houses” point. Oil is useful, but hard to refine or transport in great quantities during a war. Pilots and planes without fuel are useless. You seek the weakest link—a combination of easy to destroy or hard to replace or both. It is an intriguing puzzle and one which football coaches like Medlock try to solve every week with regard to tactics, strategy, allocation of practice time. Medlock assumes the enemy military can be neutered by various little pressure-point attacks often with almost toy-like weapons and no casualties. Having special ops attack in Desert Rats or Tobruk and all that are Hollywood, not best practices.

    John T. Reed on
  • The British SAS in North Africa in WW2 conducted raids on Luftwaffe bases that were great demonstrations of the tactical use of minimal force to achieve a tactically significant impact. The regiment destroyed far more Axis aircraft than any regiment of the RAF by sneaking 4 man teams onto airfields at night and planting timed explosive charges on the parked aircraft. They did so with very minimal casualties as well.

    I emphasize the tactical nature of this due to a paper I’m working on that argues that this tactical success was a strategic failure. The constraint on german airpower in N Africa was pilots rather than planes (the airports were quickly repopulated with fresh planes). And the constraint overall for Rommel was fuel and the trucks to carry it. So attacking parked trucks would have done more strategic damage and killing the sleeping pilots in their barracks would have been second.

    But minimal force with minimal risk to achieve big results was still the principle of these raids.

    Mark on
  • Mike Medlock sounds like he read and internalized “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. Bravo, Jack! I can’t WAIT for this novel to be released!

    Now if we could just get some of these jokers in office or wearing multiple stars on their epaulets to follow the same line of thinking as a fictional President . . . .

    Jeff on

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