Desmond Morton writes that post - September 11
civilization faces a "war without fronts." All core economic and
social infrastructures are potential targets. This paper asks how
to protect one of those infrastructures-the supply chain-from
asymmetric attack. Moreover, the supply chain, just like air
transportation, can provide weapon delivery vehicles directly to
populated areas and sensitive targets. This paper focuses where
international cargo flows are among the world's largest in volume
and economic significance: the Canada-U.S. border. Success here
should offer lessons applicable worldwide.
In this new conflict, the logistics system poses a special
attraction for terrorists. First, the large spaces within sea
containers or truck vans can conceal, and then deliver for
detonation at a targeted location, weapons commensurate with
their great size.
Second, in addition to substantial loss of life and property at
the targeted location, such an attack would present governments
with only two alternatives, each of which is unthinkable:
Governments could stop cargo flows for the days, weeks, or longer
required to ascertain the attacks' source. Or governments could
avoid economic disruption by letting cargoes continue to move but
at the price of further risks to life and property that we have
no way of measuring.
For the next stage of post-September 11 supply chain security,
Canada and the United States can better protect their mutual
freight flows against terrorist penetration by engaging the
logistics system on its own operational terms, thereby keeping it
moving while also making it safe. A network-centric approach
would match real-time data flows with cargo that is constantly
moving through numerous hands and dispersed geographically across
Today's stop-and-search protocol relies on interruption of
logistics movements to secure them from terror. Therefore, we
should augment (not replace) manual searches and machine scans at
ports and border checkpoints, which are today's main source of
direct observation of freight flows. Using wireless devices,
electronic seals, sensors, and logistics software already
available, a network-centric protocol would report on cargoes for
possible asymmetric interference in real time, at multiple times,
and at any location chosen.
To that end, this paper offers a network-centric security
protocol to augment the existing one and then outlines how Canada
and the United States can bring this about.
At its core, this network-centric approach to supply chain
security makes terrorist penetration materially more difficult by
rendering the supply chain visible-remotely and in real time-to
those who can protect against such penetration.