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First female Air Force ROTC detachment commander named at NMSU

Lt. Col. Lisa Allen doesn't believe that being the first female commander of New Mexico State University's Air Force ROTC Detachment 505 is a "big deal" and thinks it shouldn't matter what gender the commander is, since the responsibilities and obligations are the same.

Lt. Col. Lisa Allen is the first female commander of New Mexico State University's Air Force ROTC Detachment 505. (Courtesy Photo)

"I didn't know when I arrived here in July 2006 that I was the first female AFROTC commander. I'm honored that I am, and happy to serve as an example for the female cadets in the detachment," Allen said. "Having 'grown up' in the Air Force when there was much greater sexism, it's refreshing to see the Air Force of today, where for almost every position, sex has no relevance in terms of choosing the best person for the job."

Allen, who also is a professor of aerospace studies at NMSU, has a great deal of responsibility and has a clear understanding of her duties.

"My mission is to produce the best second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force," Allen said.

As the commander, Allen is responsible for providing command and administrative support to active duty Air Force staff, coordinating with NMSU Army ROTC and providing support to Air Force Institute of Technology students. She also serves as commutation account reviewer and Arnold Air Society advisor/liaison.

As a professor, Allen teaches aerospace studies courses and portions of the Leadership Laboratory required for ROTC cadets. She also conducts counseling with cadets and coordinates with the College of Arts and Sciences and university staff in all matters pertaining to aerospace studies.

"Of course, in both roles I am obligated to help motivate our cadets and help provide incentive to learn," Allen said. "I'm also obligated to set the example as an active duty Air Force officer and the senior Air Force officer present, in all areas, from customs and courtesies, to dress, appearance and behavior."

Allen intends to spend the rest of her military career at NMSU.

"I've spent 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, and I am planning on retiring at the end of my assignment here at NMSU in 2009," Allen said.
"Lt. Col. Allen brings with her a trajectory of outstanding service and a proven commitment to excellence," said Waded Cruzado-Salas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "As the first female to occupy this position at NMSU, Allen is a valuable asset and an extraordinary role model for young female students. Moreover, given her extraordinary record, she is a source of inspiration for all students in general."

Allen joined the Air Force in 1980 and her first assignment was at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey as a materiel facilities specialist. Following that assignment, she was selected for special duty as an Air Force basic military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. In 1984, she retrained as a computer programming specialist and was assigned to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. While there, she completed her bachelor's degree in Spanish, graduating from Texas Lutheran College in 1986. Shortly after, she was selected for Air Force Officer Training School and in 1989 was commissioned as an officer.

Allen has been deployed to Panama, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador and Puerto Rico for U.S. counterdrug operations. She is a combat veteran having deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Operation Allied Force (Kosovo Campaign) in 1999. She has served as a mission planner and aircrew member for several Homeland Security missions. Allen's awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Combat Readiness Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal with one device and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.