It's time for the Coast Guard commandant—soon to be Katrina-hardened Vice Admiral Thad Allen—to become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
When President Bush tapped Vice Admiral Thad Alien a few weeks back to become the 23rd commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, the choice was widely viewed as a no-brainer. Just a few months earlier, the admiral was winning plaudits for his performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the nation's worst natural disaster, as was the service he will take charge of on 25 May 2006. At the time, on national television, in a resounding vote of confidence, the president said, "Admiral Alien speaks for the administration." His elevation to the top Coast Guard post-coming in the wake of his service's extraordinary efforts in the Katrina impact area-makes this an appropriate moment to raise an old issue: Isn't it time for the commandant of the Coast Guard to become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), at least when issues directly affecting the service are under discussion?