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Name: Allen, Thad
Current Position: Former Commandant
Born in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 16, 1949, Thad William Allen is a 1967 graduate of Tucson’s Palo Verde High School. He went on to attend the United States Coast Guard Academy, where he was a noted football player, graduating in 1971. He obtained a Master of Public Administration degree from George Washington University. He also holds a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Allen has served in the Coast Guard for 37 years. He’s a specialist in coastal and offshore operations, and many of his first ship assignments reflect his expertise. He served on board the cutters Androscoggin and Gallatin and commanded the Citrus. Allen also served as search and rescue controller in the Greater Antilles Section, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico; as intelligence watch officer at the Drug Enforcement Agency/Immigration and Naturalization Service Intelligence Center in El Paso, Texas; and as chief budget officer for Maintenance and Logistics Command in the Atlantic Area.
Before 1997, he served as the Coast Guard’s director of resources, and was responsible for handling the USCG’s budget and long-range plans. Allen then commanded the Seventh District, directing operations for most of Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and throughout the Caribbean. He then concurrently served as commander of the Fifth District and as commander of the U.S. maritime Defense Zone, where he oversaw operations in five Coast Guard districts spanning 14 million square miles. In 2001, he led efforts to pool relief resources in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Allen served as Coast Guard chief of staff from 2002 to 2006. While in that position, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made him a deputy to Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown on Sept. 5, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He assumed full on-site responsibility for recovery efforts four days later, after Brown was recalled to Washington, D.C., over charges of incompetence. Brown stepped down from that position on Jan. 27, 2006. Allen became the 23rd Coast Guard commandant on May 25, 2006, and served until May 25, 2010. However, Allen will continue to act as incident commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Allen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
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