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Coast Guard Change of Command

Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Fort McNair, Washington, DC, Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Secretary Napolitano, distinguished guests, family, friends, it's a real pleasure to be here today and have the opportunity to honor Admiral Thad Allen, as he completes almost four decades of service, and recognize the achievements of the Coast Guard under his leadership.

Admiral Allen retires as commandant with a strong record of leadership and accomplishment. As Coast Guard chief of staff in 2005, he took charge and brought new energy, focus and coordination to rescue and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

Since taking command of the Coast Guard, Admiral Allen has implemented the largest organizational changes since World War II, including an overdue modernization and recapitalization program that will better equip the Coast Guard to meet 21st century challenges.

Admiral Allen's tenure has seen a growing level of cooperation between the Coast Guard and the Defense Department. The maritime strategy released in 2007 was a product of all three sea services and signed by the chiefs of the Coast Guard, the Marine Corps and the Navy.

Admiral Allen was also the main advocate for the maritime operational threat response protocol, an interagency framework to deal with a range of seaborne threats from weapons of mass destruction to pollution.

Under Admiral Allen's leadership, the Coast Guard has taken on a range of missions in partnership with America's other military services around the globe. Coast Guard cutters patrol the Arabian Gulf, protect oil infrastructure and train the new Iraqi Coast Guard. Coast Guard law-enforcement detachments serve on Navy ships for counter-drug operations in the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific. The cutter Dallas was called up and delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia following the Russian invasion and later deployed with our Navy to African Partnership Station.

Under the command of his able successor, Admiral Papp, the U.S. military looks forward to building on this legacy with the men and women of the Coast Guard in defense of our homeland and vital national interests in the years ahead.

In closing, it is clear that Admiral Allen truly embodies the motto of the Coast Guard: Semper Paratus.

Thad, for your many years of service to our nation, I give thanks to you, your wife, Pam, and your entire family. Admiral Allen, if you would join me.

Master of Ceremonies, please read the citation.

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