Marine colonel selected for Naval Academy post

Move sets precedent at 157-year-old school

January 12, 2002|By Ariel Sabar | Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF

Marine Col. John R. Allen was named commandant of midshipmen at the Naval Academy yesterday, the first time a Marine has held so senior a post at the 157-year-old officer-training school.

Allen, 48, a 1976 academy graduate and career officer, moves into the second-highest military position at the academy. In his new job, comparable to dean of students at civilian colleges, Allen will oversee a staff of more than 150 and an $18.7 million budget.

The appointment elevates Allen to the elite leadership ranks of a school long dominated by Navy officers. Just one-sixth of academy graduates enter the Marines.

Naval Academy Supt. John Ryan said in a statement that Allen would serve as a role model for the historic cooperation between the Navy and the Marines, both of which report to the Department of the Navy.

Cmdr. Bill Spann, the academy's chief spokesman, stressed that Allen's appointment did not represent a shift in direction or power at the academy. "This is meant to signal one thing and one thing only -- that Colonel Allen was the best man for the job," Spann said.

Ryan considered several candidates for the job, but his selection of Allen was not unexpected. Allen had served as deputy commandant of midshipmen since April and as acting commandant since last month, when Rear Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III left after two years for a job at the Pentagon.

Before arriving in April, Allen had commanded the Marines' officer-training school in Quantico, Va.

In 1988, Allen taught political science at the academy and two years later won the school's award for best military instructor. A former battalion commander, he has served as the senior aide de camp and military secretary to the commandant of the Marine Corps.

Allen was traveling out of town with the academy's debate team yesterday and could not be reached for comment. He is described by colleagues as an able soldier with a courtly demeanor.

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