News reports are trickling out about a decision by a Customs and Border Patrol Predator operator to send a multi-million dollar unmanned aerial vehicle into the Pacific Ocean when it became clear it could not make it back to its home base. This incident demands serious questions from Congress about the future of CBP’s Predator drone use.
As C-TPAT has matured, Customs and Border Protection’s emphasis on compliance is sensible, and CBP is to be commended for ensuring that the program is a real security program and not merely a “paper program.” But CBP also must be careful to ensure that suspension and revocation decisions are made consistently across C-TPAT membership and that decisions are made in a timely way and in accordance with transparent procedures. There is anecdotal information that consistency and transparency are not yet hallmarks of CBP’s compliance efforts.
For the past month, the Homeland Security Show I host is spotlighting issues in homeland security without the interlude of media packaging stories into three minute segments or subjected to political hyperbole from Capitol Hill. This is not a show about thrillers, even if some of the content is more twisted and strange than most science fiction. Here is a rundown of my guests and show topics and some of our upcoming broadcasts.
Despite Defense Department budget cuts and ongoing military operations, pirates in the waters off the coast of Somalia won’t see a decrease in naval military presence any time soon. NATO allies recently agreed to continue through 2014 the Ocean Shield operation – a counter-piracy naval operation off the Horn of Africa protecting merchant ships from pirate attack. This is welcome news to many ship owners and charters, which have seen an increase in the number of pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean. The pirate threat and the international response seem only to be escalating.
If you mention the word “piracy” to someone, chances are images of Johnny Depp’s character from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but the sobering facts are that savagery on the high seas is very real and becoming a costly circumstance that deserves more attention. The waters around the Horn of Africa are growing more dangerous, with pirates from Somalia continuing attacks on commercial ships. These attacks contribute to the $7 billion-$12 billion that maritime piracy costs the international economy each year. To address and discuss this international challenge with national impact, the National Chamber Foundation will host “High Risk on the High Seas: The Economic Impact of Piracy in the Indian Ocean.”
As the U.S. fleet of icebreakers continues to age and fall behind the world’s arctic maritime community, the vision and fortitude of U.S. decision makers continues to wane. The recent announcement by Shell Oil to launch their $200 million arctic icebreaker in April 2012 should send a shiver up the spine of every Coastguardsman and mariner who has considered how the United States will deal with the future of operations in the high latitudes.
By Nelson Balido
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin last Thursday announced his resignation effective December 30. For folks who monitor border trade and security issues, this wasn’t exactly a surprise. But it was still a disappointment. Nevertheless, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the right choice in naming deputy commissioner David Aguilar as the new acting commissioner.
Earlier this month, I was at Rutgers University and fortunate to hear retired U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen speak at the 2nd annual Maritime Risk Symposium. In his address, Adm. Allen developed a theme in discussing resilience that I believe bears greater and deeper discussion. He discussed the Joplin, Missouri, tornado devastation this past spring. At the center of this lesson is a school teacher – it is the story of Dr. C.J. Huff, the young teacher-turned-school superintendent who demonstrated resilience in practice.