Homeland Security Strikes Global Partnership For Cargo Security

Government-industry partnership will use technology to protect against terrorist threats in the international supply chain, announced DHS Secretary Napolitano.

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is teaming with the World Custom Organization in an international effort to secure the global supply chain, a plan that includes using technology to modernize the detection of potential terrorist threats.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano revealed the partnership Thursday at the European Policy Center in Brussels, where she spoke to an international audience of global shipping and cargo stakeholders, security experts, and government officials.

Napolitano outlined three goals for global supply-chain security: preventing terrorists from exploiting it to plan and execute attacks; protecting the most critical elements of the system, such as transportation hubs and related critical infrastructure; and building resilience to ensure that if something does happen, the supply chain can recover quickly.

The DHS will thread technology throughout its efforts to achieve all three goals, she said.

Securing the global supply chain became a pressing need for the federal government in late October after bombs were found hidden in printer cartridges being shipped overseas from Yemen.

The DHS worked with agencies both in the United States and abroad to thwart the attack, work that was the result of improved efforts to secure the aviation industry after a bomb scare on a commercial airline flight into the United States on Christmas Day 2009, Napolitano said.

Now the United States will focus same attention to working across borders to secure the international supply chain, she said. "Just as the nations of the world were able to achieve consensus on international aviation security, and make historic progress in securing a vital global system -- so too can we make global supply chain security stronger, smarter and more resilient," Napolitano said.

To detect bomb threats in the future, the DHS plans to use sensor technology to track goods such as precursor chemicals, and also to detect them when agents come in contact with them, Napolitano said.

The U.S. also is working on an international level to educate customs agencies on the uses of new technology to improve security. As a part of this, the DHS and other agencies like the State and Defense Departments are expanding technical assistance and training to partner countries to secure international borders, she said.

Improved information sharing is part of the plan as well. This year, the Obama administration will create a first-of-its-kind center to coordinate all U.S. government efforts regarding the issue of potentially dangerous exports, Napolitano said.

The move will ensure that different agencies playing a part in security will communicate more effectively and work together to create technology that targets the most dangerous threats, she said.

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About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Montalbano, Contributing Writer

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer, journalist, and therapeutic writing mentor with more than 25 years of professional experience. Her areas of expertise include technology, business, and culture. Elizabeth previously lived and worked as a full-time journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco, and New York City; she currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal. In her free time, she enjoys surfing, hiking with her dogs, traveling, playing music, yoga, and cooking.

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