Piracy was an unexpected addition to the program at the National Defense Industrial Association's 25th annual conference, "21st Century Logistics: Vision and Strategies for the 2nd Decade." And we're not talking about the Jack Sparrow type that conjures up images of a sunny clime, swaying palm trees, and Caribbean breezes. We're talking about the Somali pirates that hijacked the U.S.-flagged vessel MV Maersk Alabama, capturing the headlines on the second day of the conference.
Although piracy was new to the agenda, security issues were already top of mind for attendees. Vulnerability in the supply chain, transnational and adaptive threats, and stateless enemies were all themes that came up time and time again during the first day of the conference.
For example, in his keynote session, Gen. James Cartwright, USMC, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged the audience of defense logisticians to confront the realities of the present day. Citing "persistent conflict" and the need for deep capabilities to protect the interests of the United States around the globe, Gen. Cartwright spoke out in support of the sweeping cuts announced by Defense Secretary William Gates that week. The cuts, as Secretary Gates had said previously, are aimed at ensuring that the U.S. military aligns its capabilities with "the wars we are in today and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years to come."