Container in-Security Initiatives

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DRAFT Rev 0 Container In-Security Initiatives: Getting Risk-Based Supply Chain Security Right “I believe that we should treat every container destined to enter or pass through the United States as a potential weapon of mass destruction; every ship that carries it as a delivery device; and every port and point inland as a potential target”, Rob Quartel, chairman and CEO of Freightdesk Technologies and former member of the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission told the Government Affairs Committee of the U.S. Senate on 6 December 2001.1 The emergence of a terrorist threat to the United States of America has directed the attention of security professionals and politicians alike to the vulnerability of the supply chain to terrorist attacks, be it as a target of or a conduit for such attacks. The response has been a flurry of security initiatives led by the U.S. Most of these take a risk-based approach to supply chain security. The new security measures have been adopted and implemented with varying degrees of enthusiasm by U.S. trade partners. One reason for the muted response is that the U.S. focus on terrorism has transformed the perception of supply chain security from making it more “theft-proof” to making it more “tamperresistant“. The two issues are not as complementary as they seem to be at first glance, but that will not be the object of this discussion. Thus, I will be leaving aside the arguably more tangible problem of cargo theft and cargo diversion. Instead I will discuss the merits of actual and planned measures for the increased and targeted screening of containerised cargo in the context of counter-terrorism. Another issue I will focus on is the implementation of a preferential treatment system for “trusted” or otherwise vetted, certified, or approved-of shippers and participants in the global supply chain. This is actually a manifestation of the riskbased screening and inspection approach and is a recurring theme in the various container security initiatives. This article will argue that the current approach to risk-based security in the supply chain is not conducive for reducing the security risk from terrorism to the supply chain, to the United States or to anyone else involved in global trade for that matter. This holds true in spite of the enormous political and financial resources directed at improving information handling and analysis and at physical security measures. I am making this case in particular with a view to the measures implemented in maritime transit, the bottleneck through which most of our global trade must flow. However, it applies similarly to other elements of the intermodal supply chain. I will start with the idea of basing screening decisions on a risk-assessment generated through a profiling system with a view to segregating people and cargoes into “trusted” and “not trusted” categories. This measure has proliferated from the aviation industry to rest of the supply chain. What we see today is largely an attempt at an adaptation of the aviation security inspection and screening practices to the global supply chain. Meshed-in are some quality management related elements that aim at reducing the security costs through “prevention at the source” and “source inspections”. This applies, for instance, to programmes like the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and the Container Security Initiative (CSI). I often hear from security professionals that the objective is to make the maritime industry as secure as the aviation industry. Such statements do not reassure me. The fact remains that to this date most of the cargo shipped on passenger planes goes entirely uninspected – for bombs or anything else. In the US the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relies instead on a programme it calls “Known Shipper”, which leaves it up to air carriers and freight forwarders to screen regular cargo customers so they can load boxes Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs,...
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