Remembering unsung cargo heroes.
Chris passed away in August after a four-year battle with kidney cancer. I met Chris in 2007 when he had just started as a partner at Adfero Group, a Washington, D.C., public relations firm with a keen interest in the air cargo screening issue. As former chief of staff for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Chris knew a lot about homeland security and the significant challenge of screening air cargo.
Chris and I spent hours strategizing on how to communicate the air cargo story to Capitol Hill, both of us believing that 100-percent physical screening alone was not in the best interest of our nation's security. Before the passing of air cargo screening legislation, Chris felt few people actually believed that Congress would undermine years of work building an intelligence-driven, risk-based supply chain security infrastructure, including extensive partnerships with foreign governments.
Chris believed that the biggest challenge to the 9/11 Recommendations Commission Act would be making sure that other countries' inspection and compliance protocols were consistent with the Transportation Security Administration in the U.S. Despite a successful Certified Cargo Screening Program here in the U.S., establishing the same program overseas would be impossible, and our country would have to rely on what foreign governments were doing as a means to ensure full cargo screening for imports.
Chris previously served as an aide to then-Congressman Asa Hutchinson, who remembers Chris as a pioneer in digital communications with a knack for humor-infused storytelling.
His masterful use of digital media was present in all his work. Chris was a talented writer who joined his wife Dena in writing frequent humorous updates for their blog, The Kidney Cancer Chronicles, sharing successes, struggles and insights into their battle with cancer. As with the air cargo issue, Chris used his supreme writing and research talents as a way to effectively communicate the facts, using irreverent and sometimes heartbreaking humor.
Chris assisted the Airforwarders Association in building its digital communications strategy, suggesting improvements and changes during our many discussions. He understood the importance of social media tools in bringing people together to debate important issues.
Bringing people together virtually was one of his most significant talents, and I remember being invited to participate in a cargo-screening roundtable discussion, broadcast online. Panelists included former president of American Airlines Cargo Dave Brooks, former TSA air cargo security chief Doug Brittin and other industry experts. We were discussing the impending 100-percent screening mandate, and I doubted anyone would really bother to watch the broadcast. I was amazed to see that thousands tuned in, as Chris had predicted they would. Chris had a knack for understanding and using the power of the Internet.
The Air Cargo Advanced Screening pilot program is about to enter its rulemaking phase this fall in which house AWB airbill data is analyzed by the Customs and Border Protection and the TSA prior to shipments being loaded on flights coming to the U.S. The initiative acknowledges that physical screening, while important, is only part of a risk-based approach to security--something Chris and others advocated for years. Once underway, our nation and most others will use data risk analysis and not just physical screening as a tool in the arsenal against terror. Chris would have liked that.
After the devastation and logistical challenge brought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Jock Menzies co-founded the American Logistics Aid Network. He understood the importance of logistics services in rescue and recovery efforts after disasters, and he helped to develop an effective model for a portal allowing relief groups and people to post critical supply chain needs that would then be matched to the capabilities of industry providers.
Jock's interpersonal and presentation skills made him an impressive figure who could bring disparate people together in the logistics industry and relief organizations during times of crisis. He and his team were instrumental in organizing relief efforts after thea devastating earthquake in Haiti and most recently during Hurricane Sandy.
I had an opportunity to join him as a co-presenter at one of the many industry events, and found Jock to be an honest and sincere logistics professional that truly cared about the role our business plays in disaster relief. Jock will be missed as a major force in the humanitarian logistics community.
Brandon Fried is the executive director of the U.S. Airforwarders Association