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Difficulties in Transportation Planning

Julian Silk's picture
Adjunct Professor,
  • Member since 2010
  • 285 items added with 7,700 views
  • Jul 13, 2022

This is partly inspired by the George Will column in The Washington Post, “Give Ukraine more artillery, and let the Navy break Russia’s blockade”, at

and partly by the recent column by Ron Miller, “Hydrocarbon Myths Dispelled”, here at

The details of how Russian forces are using artillery in Ukraine are given at

and it is impossible not to be sympathetic to the desire to provide the Ukrainian forces with aid to overcome this deficiency.

I do wonder whether there is some easier way of aiding the Ukrainians, by providing artificial intelligence to disable the drones that enable the Russian artillery to be used to advantage.  Because a naval engagement by U.S. forces would not be a single strike, and then the Russians would be cowed and the blockade would be over.  Even with nuclear retaliation absolutely ruled out, and with European and Asian naval forces involved as well – the best case – breaking the blockade and enabling Ukrainian wheat to leave the country and prevent starvation would be a long, drawn out affair.  The Russians would be attacking the U.S. and allied naval forces with the same artillery, plus naval ships and submarines and air power and land-based missiles – it would be an extensive engagement.  It is the desire of the Putin regime that no grain goes out, so that the combatant ships would have to be fortified, and there would have to be some sort of umbrella provided for ships trying to get the grain away from the fire.

If an extended engagement does ensue, there will be a demand for new and different types of naval vessels.  If so, what used to be called the Naval Research Lab, now the Naval Sea Systems Command, at Carderock, Maryland, as in

will become a very busy place. 

In the 1970s, there was a rail line that went by this research lab.  It was a very sleepy line, with little traffic, and the rails were finally removed, and the line was turned into a nature and bicycle trail. 

If there were a sincere, resolute desire on the part of the U.S. public to have the U.S. Navy intervene, and the public was prepared to endure the years it would take, this line could be restored again, at enormous expense and despite furious public controversy.  Because in any extended naval engagement, there would be casualties.  Can you really be sure that people in the Hamptons, in New York, or Southside Chicago, or Albuquerque, New Mexico, would be willing to endure such casualties?  The people who own boats in Aventura, Florida, and elsewhere would not be willing to sacrifice their boats for a modern version of the battle of Dunkirk.  Every day, there would be Bernie Sanders and members of “The Squad” railing against the war machine, and demanding that the money spent be devoted to the BDS movement against Israel. 

So transportation planning, whether of rail, or automobile, or truck, isn’t really just about transportation, not for Maryland, or Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, or anywhere else.  It’s really a judgement of what people want, and what will happen, not just now, but years and maybe decades into the future. 


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Julian Silk's picture
Thank Julian for the Post!
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