A top supply-chain executive told delegates at the 91st Annual Convention of the National Retail Federation that the logistics industry's service network can play a critical role in helping importers and exporters improve the security of their global shipments to protect against terrorism.

"The logistics infrastructure is principally designed to help manufacturers and retailers expedite the distribution of materials and merchandise and reduce pilferage and damage," said Bill Villalon, APL Logistics' president for the Americas. "But it can be modified to focus more intensely on the cargo-security challenge."

Villalon said dozens of agencies at national, state, regional and local levels in the U.S. are intensifying their efforts to ensure the freight-transportation system cannot be used for terrorist purposes.

He said there are a number of contributions the global logistics industry can offer to the development of a more secure supply chain.

"I believe we can and must harness the existing infrastructure that has been developed by the logistics industry and collaboratively link it with those of customers, their suppliers, government agencies and other participants," Villalon said. "Because our industry's existing capabilities are based on carefully mapped, sound information-technology and operating processes, they can now be tightened and refocused against cargo terrorism, once clear standards are established by government and industry groups."