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Gates Praises Outgoing Coast Guard Commandant

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today praised outgoing Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen for his close working relationship with the military, and said he looks forward to a similar relationship with Allen’s successor, Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. Video

Gates spoke at the change-of-command ceremony at Fort Lesley J. McNair here. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano presided over the ceremony, as her department is the Coast Guard’s parent organization.

In Allen’s four years as commandant, he oversaw the Coast Guard’s largest organizational changes since World War II, Gates said. Those changes included “an overdue modernization and recapitalization program that will better equip the Coast Guard to meet 21st-century challenges,” Gates said in prepared remarks.

Allen’s tenure has seen a growing level of cooperation between the Coast Guard and the Defense Department, Gates noted. A maritime strategy issued in 2007 was a product of all three sea services, signed by the chiefs of the Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy, he said.

In addition, Allen was the main advocate for the Maritime Operational Threat Response protocol, an interagency framework to deal with seaborne threats ranging from weapons of mass destruction to pollution, Gates said.

As national incident commander for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Allen has had the lead role in public briefings regarding Coast Guard and military roles in the cleanup following British Petroleum’s April 20 drilling disaster off the Louisiana coast. Allen said he will remain in that role for some time.

Although the Coast Guard is a component of Homeland Security, it maintains close ties with the military services. During his tenure as commandant, Allen said, the Coast Guard enhanced its ties to the Defense Department and held unprecedented talks with the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Guard Bureau.

“My overarching goal as commandant was for the Coast Guard to become more change-centric,” Allen said. “Nowhere has this been more evident than in our responses to the devastating earthquake in Haiti and in our leading role to the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Gates said Allen’s record of leadership and accomplishment includes his work as Coast Guard chief of staff when “he took charge and brought new energy, focus and coordination to rescue and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina” in 2005.

Gates outlined the Coast Guard’s partnership missions with the military under Allen’s command, including patrolling the Arabian Gulf, protecting oil infrastructure, training the new Iraqi coast guard, counter-drug operations in the Caribbean, and humanitarian aid to Georgia following the Russian invasion there in 2008.


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Robert M. Gates
Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen

Related Sites:
Photo Essay: Gates Attends U.S. Coast Guard Change of Command Ceremony
U.S. Coast Guard
iCommandant: Web Journal of Adm. Thad Allen


Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

6/1/2010 8:01:30 PM
I completely agree with the other comments. Secretary Gates' comments were very good but other than that the article represents this ignorance that persists about the Coast Guard's place as military service. A fellow officer on the mission from "another maritime service" actual made a similar comment just today thinking that the USCG was part of the DOT still. Sheesh. Doesn't anybody read or do any research (or editing) these days?
- Joe Althouse, Port au Prince Haiti

5/25/2010 4:46:09 PM
Thanks to Sec. Gates for acknowledging ADM Allen's exemplary service to this nation. I do take a bit of exception to the phraseology used in this article. The United States Coast Guard is legally considered a military service at all times, whether it is operating under Department of Homeland Security or Department of Defense. So it is a bit inaccurate to say that he had a "close working relationship with the military" considering that he is the leader of one of the military branches. In any event, this is a very small nitpick. Having the SECDEF sing your praises at a Coast Guard change of command is a tremendous honor for the outgoing Commandant and the entire service.
- flynnbw, Portland, ME

5/25/2010 2:28:52 PM
The reason the USCG maintains close toes with DOD is that the USCG is always an armed force of the United States by law. in time of war and when the President directs, the USCG becomes part of the navy.
- Tom Nunes, Phoenix

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