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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Profile: Vice Admiral Thad Allen
Vice Admiral Thad Allen
Thad Allen has earned a name as a man of action during his career
Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen, the new head of the Hurricane Katrina relief operation, is seen by Washington as a man of action.

He was dubbed "the Schwarzkopf of Connecticut" by his staff who saw similarities between his handling of a New England oil spill in the 1990s and the 1991 Gulf War general.

The three-star admiral led the Atlantic forces in Coast Guard response after the 11 September attacks in 2001 when every US port was considered a target.

For his efforts, Mr Allen, 56, was promoted to chief of staff, third in the Coast Guard's chain of command, in May 2002.

He has been lined up to take over as the next commandant of the US Coast Guard - a prospect which could be boosted with a successful management of the hurricane relief effort.

In giving Mr Allen overall control of field command, officials in Washington said Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff was looking for "more action".

"The secretary really wanted the type of guy who can get it done," one official said.

"Allen is an action-orientated guy. He wants to see results, and that's what the secretary is expecting."


Vice Adm Allen has direct experience of hurricane relief operations, overseeing about 15,000 search and rescue operations in south-eastern US and the Caribbean.

His career has included co-ordinating drug and migrant operations in Florida, stints aboard three Coast Guard cutters and a tour of duty in Thailand during the Vietnam War.

He's very quick-witted, he's a hands-on kind of leader
George Naccara, fellow Coast Guard Academy graduate

"He's tested under fire," said Rear Adm Joe Nimmich, a colleague of 18 years.

"He doesn't let red tape and bureaucracy get in his way - he figures out a way to do things," said Master Chief Petty Officer Skip Brown, who has served with Mr Allen several times.

The son of a retired Coast Guard chief petty officer who served in World War II, Mr Allen was born in Tucson, Arizona, in 1949.

He decided to follow in his father's footsteps and in 1971, graduated from the Coast Guard Academy.

George Naccara, a fellow academy graduate, said Mr Allen was "very much a natural leader".

"He's got a sense of humour," he said. "He's very quick-witted, he's a hands-on kind of leader. He puts a personal touch on everything he's involved in."

Mr Allen holds a Master's degree in public administration from George Washington University and a Master's in science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He is married with three children.

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