In nearly four decades of service, retired Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen has led the kind of career usually reserved for Hollywood movie military men. As commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Allen oversaw east coast maritime security on 9/11. In 2005, he spearheaded the federal response to Katrina. His leadership earned wide praise, and the Coast Guard emerged from the disaster as the rare agency to garner some respect for their relief work. This spring, Allen served as National Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. And, like the action movie hero brought out of retirement, his expertise has outlived his military career. Now retired, Allen continues to serve, in a civilian capacity, as senior executive for the Homeland Security Secretary. It’s an uncanny repeat performance – same man, same Gulf, different disaster. The National Oil Spill Commission only presented its preliminary findings on Monday. With oil flow estimates underestimated and possibly suppressed, and with public outrage waning, where does Allen see his role in securing accountability from the offshore oil drilling industry and continuing to provide relief to a struggling Gulf coast?
Thad Allen, National Incident Commander of the BP Oil Spill, and retired 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard