Mark Crosby, the Port’s chief of public safety and security, recently reported on his diplomatic mission to Bangladesh. As an Oregon National Guard lieutenant colonel, Crosby was part of a small team with a mission to establish relationships and recommend future consulting trips through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.
Bangladesh is the seventh most populous country in the world with 155 million people, half as many citizens as the U.S., in an area about half the size of Oregon. Situated between two economic giants, China and India, Crosby says Bangladesh’s business climate is similar to Oregon’s in that it fights to get noticed in a global market.
“We were in a listening mode in meetings with local government and port officials,” said Crosby. “They expressed concerns about meeting international standards in security and disaster management, and we tried to identify individual programs from here in Portland that they would find useful.”
Crosby and his team started in Dhaka, the capital city, where they met with government representatives from the ministry of shipping, airport directors and disaster management coordinators. His team then moved to Chittagong, Bangladesh’s main seaport to meet with the chairman of the Port of Chittagong and port security personnel. While there, the team joined a U.S. Coast Guard delegation to participate in a tour of the port to gauge its compliance with international security standards.
The disparity between recent strides toward modernity and less sophisticated operations was glaring at the port. The Port at Chittagong featured a closed-circuit TV-capable command center and new truck X-ray machines, while day laborers used paper vouchers and identification papers to get paid at the front gate.
With the interest Bangladeshi officials had in security, safety and economic development during this visit, it’s evident that the Port of Portland could play a key role for the National Guard in developing this continuing partnership with Bangladesh.