Saturday, September 17, 2005

Many seem to be confused

I think some folks are confused about Vice Admiral Thad Allen's current role in the Katrina ops. Headlines today scream:

Coast Guard Questions Big Easy Timeline

But Allen isn't representing the Coast Guard in his current role.

((Don't be content with only a teaser of this post;
read more of this musing.))

You'll note that Allen has shifted from his "operational dress uniform" to business casual. And the shirt has FEMA emblazoned on it.

Yes, Allen isn't an employee of FEMA; he is still a CG member. But he is the designated Principle Federal Official. He is the federal official designated by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to oversee the federal government's response to Katrina. He no longer speaks for, or represents, the Coast Guard. To say the "Coast Guard questions" the timeline just ain't so. DHS might; hell, FEMA might, even. But not the CG. Sure, a Coast Guard flag officer does, but he's not speaking for the service anymore.

I was expecting the shift from uniform to biz casual, and I wondered how it would go over. In the messages this week that went out sending Coasties to Allen's staff -- and he's taken quite a few -- the paragraph about uniform said something like "ODU and business casual, such as khaki slacks a knit collared shirt." I think one of the things Allen wants to show is that this is not a Coast Guard operation; too many blue suits and people might think we're in charge.

Well, our people might be in key leadership spots, but they are acting as DHS employees working hand-in-hand with the professionals at FEMA.

I mentioned above he's taken staffers with him. He has taken people for years. When he came to the Atlantic Area, he brought the folks with him he wanted. When he went to HQ as the chief of staff, he did the same. I'm not surprised he's taken people to the PFO job.

Yesterday I was talking with a colleague, and he mentioned that everything was going to be okay as Katrina was with Allen. I thought, "Huh? Maybe the thought of Katrina. Maybe the remains of her destruction. But she's gone."

Turns out his military aide is an officer with Katrina as her first name. We think she's going be "Kat" this week. ;-)

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