Industry Speaks: Perspective from the Fourth Component

by Dec 1, 2018Defense Transportation Journal0 comments

Session Summary from the NDTA-USTRANSCOM 2018 Fall Meeting

The NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting would not be complete without perspective from the fourth component—industry. Leading this portion of the program, Mr. Tom Crowley, Jr., CEO of Crowley Maritime Corp., provided the industry keynote address.

He highlighted challenges commercial companies are facing while they support DOD and Homeland Security missions. These challenges included contested environments around the globe, rising world powers, safety concerns during activation, the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes and other natural disasters, labor shortages, technology deployment and the connection between varying systems, and cyber threats to those systems and throughout our network.

Crowley commented that consistent maritime policy, such as the Jones Act and cargo preference in MSP, that upholds a healthy American merchant marine and a formidable capability to build vessels we need to project ourselves is paramount. When it comes to labor shortages, he implored the audience to share the benefits of careers in transportation and logistics in order to attract more young people to these professions. Discussions and action are happening and/or needed between military and industry to help in dealing with cyber security, threats to trade routes and supply chains, restrictive practices that continue to impede commercial efficiencies, the under-funding of our defense industrial base, as well as concerns over emergency requirements in contracts.

Serving Both Industry and Government

While the industry faces many challenges, Crowley saw benefits to DOD and industry working together. Crowley Maritime’s customer base is approximately 85 percent industry and 15 percent government. Working in both sectors simultaneously allows the company to provide commercial innovations to government customers, and apply lessons learned through government services to their commercial clients. DOD relies on industry in order to ensure the defense transportation system works, and that missions and Warfighters are supported.

Speaking of opportunities ahead, Crowley said that government and commercial investment is required for infrastructure, assets and personnel. This will be critical in order to remain competitive in a rapidly changing world. The most exciting areas of investment will be in new technology, such as predictive analytics and autonomous systems, which will create safety and efficiency gains.

Industry Round Table

Industry was further represented during the Fall Meeting by a roundtable led by Mr. Pete Mento, Vice President of Global Trade and Managed Services at Crane Worldwide Logistics. The compelling session featured subject matter experts across the maritime, aviation service and trucking communities from the government, academia and private sectors. Panel members included Mr. Dan Annunziata, Director of North American Surface Transportation at CH Robinson; Ms. Abby Freeman, International Trade Compliance Manager at Sierra Nevada Corp; Capt Nate Gandy, Commandant of Midshipmen and Dean of Maritime Training at Maine Maritime Academy; Dr. Shashi Kumar, Deputy Associate Administrator and National Coordinator for Maritime Education and Training at the Department of Transportation; and Capt Alex Soukhanov, Cyber Director at Moran Shipping.

During this session, the roundtable explored the mariner shortage. The subject of worker shortages is one being felt across the modes—and the need for qualified mariners, truckers, pilots, and mechanics only continues to grow. The use of autonomous technologies to help combat the manpower shortages is one potential solution that is still evolving.

The panel also delved into the complexities surrounding the global customs picture, including the need to regulate and standardize customs procedures. Panelists spoke on the importance of leveraging technology in this context to improve supply chain efficiencies. However, in any discussion of technology the very real cyber threat which cuts across the entire industry must be acknowledged. Furthermore, small business has an important role to play in this process.