Art Arway had spent most of his long career in local law enforcement when in the summer of 2002 he took the most important job of his life. Arway was tapped to the newly created job of head of security for the Americas for DHL, perhaps the most globally oriented air-freight carrier in the business. But the timing of Arway's hire was just as significant as the role he assumed. Arway came on board just 10 months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and only four months prior to the launch of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Over the next decade, Arway was tasked with developing and executing DHL Americas' security programs during a high-wire period when supply chain security would be forever redefined and those like him were trying to navigate uncharted waters.
Today, Arway has hung out his shingle as a supply chain security consultant. He recently spoke with DC Velocity Senior Editor Mark Solomon about the challenges he faced, the issues that remain, and his overall view of the current state of supply chain security. While Arway acknowledges that there may still be holes in the security net, he strongly believes that significant progress has been made.
Q: You joined DHL in July 2002. Soon after, the TSA was created and the shipping world changed forever. In the 10 years since, what has been the most beneficial change in cargo security that would not have occurred had 9/11 been just another day?
A: 9/11 was a tragic, horrible event. However, there has been a silver lining from a supply chain security point of view. I call these "unfortunate marketing opportunities" for security. These events can be used to [draw] attention to highlighted areas that need more focus, and to develop plans to mitigate the aftershocks and prevent future incidents. It's terrible that it took an event like 9/11 to focus people on a problem that had been there for years.
Today, more eyes in government and industry are looking at the supply chain. The resultant partnership since 9/11 has definitely hardened the chain. This is beneficial from a homeland security perspective, and it has helped the supply chain by increasing the security of their cargoes entering U.S. commerce from multiple origin points across the globe. Not only are providers, shippers, and importers concerned about the security of cargo, but now there are added interests by government, which carries the weight of regulation behind them.
Q: Many in the industry opposed the congressional mandate to physically screen and inspect domestic and international inbound cargo moving in the bellies of passenger planes. They argued that a risk-based program such as "known shipper," where forwarders would make threat assessments based on their knowledge of their customers and their behavior, was a more cost-effective approach. With the mandate now in force and implemented, are the outcomes any better than if the requirements weren't in place?
A: It would be hard to extrapolate the current risks to belly cargo security and correlate them to "what ifs." With so many origins and subsequent hand-offs before cargo is finally placed on a passenger flight, there are many ways to infiltrate and compromise legitimate shipments. Risk-based assessments are valuable tools, but they must be part of a layered approach. The potential outcomes of not examining cargo are too devastating.
Q: The October 2010 incident involving explosives transported on all-cargo aircraft raised worries that terrorists would begin targeting cargo planes as weapons of mass destruction. All-cargo services are exempt from the security mandates governing passenger planes. As a former executive of a cargo carrier, do you see the need for all-cargo operators to be covered?
A: All-cargo airlines do an excellent job of monitoring their cargoes. My interactions with them tell me that they are as concerned as cargo managers at passenger airlines, and that they also follow many risk-based and layered approaches to security. But cargo carriers are less of a target because a terrorist can never be certain which flight an explosive device will be placed aboard. Because passenger schedules are more predictable and because you have humans aboard besides the flight crew, the greatest threat still remains with passenger airlines.
Q: If you were running security for a shipper, forwarder, airline, ocean line, or port facility, what would keep you up at night knowing what you know about the gaps in the network, and what steps would need to be taken to remedy that concern?
A: In a word, corruption. As with "normal" cargo theft concerns, the greatest risks tend to be internal ones. This is where supposedly trusted employees conspire, act, or fail to act in the protection of the cargo in their care. Anyone in a position of care of cargo with the potential to threaten human life on any shore should be subject to intense background scrutiny. This process would also include monitoring by the use of the most efficient form of polygraphing. It is not infallible, but it is effective. Do everything you can to keep the fox out of the henhouse.
Q: The U.S. government has begun approving provisional permits for Mexican trucks to operate in the United States beyond the commercial zone along the southern border. The program has met with opposition from independent truckers, organized labor, and some in Congress, who call it a threat to U.S. drivers and to border security in general. Is there validity to either claim, or are the protests more politically motivated than anything else?
A: I've worked in a union environment, so I can understand some of these labor issues. However, we must separate the security component from the politics. Anyone who comes into the United States must meet the security requirements if they drive one mile or one inch over the borders on any point of the compass.
Q: It's been two years since Customs and Border Protection began enforcing its 10+2 cargo security initiative for seagoing imports. Do you have any read on how well, or poorly, shippers and carriers are complying with the mandate?
A: Once IT and reporting issues were ironed out, I have seen it work effectively. You can imagine that the transmittal of volumes of data can be problematic. The 10+2 initiative is another viable layer in the security approach.
Q: If you were to give a shipper or carrier one piece of "macro" advice on how to make its operations more secure, what would it be?
A: First, fully understand what you need to do to protect your portion of the supply chain. Second, make an action plan, implement it, and continuously monitor it for adjustments and/or improvements. Lastly, do not rely on others to do it for you by expecting they have fulfilled their responsibilities either prior to or after handoff.