Information Sciences and Technology

Army SWAT commander draws on IST foundation as military police officer

First Lieutenant Koby Allen ‘couldn’t have picked a better degree’ to prepare him for military career

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Koby Allen and his wife, Leticia. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

(Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories honoring members of the College of Information Sciences and Technology community during Penn State Military Appreciation Week).  

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — U.S. Army 1st Lt. Koby Allen is an active-duty SWAT commander and military police officer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in security and risk analysis (SRA) from Penn State in 2018 and is currently pursuing a master of business administration with a concentration in cybercrime from American Military University. He is stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, where he lives with his wife, Leticia, and baby son, Kaius. 

Why did you first enlist in the military, and why did you specifically join the military police? 

I commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army in May 2018 after spending four years in the Army ROTC program at Penn State. I wanted to commission because I always had a drive to serve my country in some capacity. I found interest in the military through participating in the Junior ROTC program at my high school and it motivated me to serve from that point on.  

Growing up I had always admired and appreciated what law enforcement did to keep the community they served safe. I saw that military police was a job option post commissioning, so I felt that it was the perfect fit to not only serve my country but keep the community safe at the same time.  

U.S. Army First Lieutenant and Military Police Officer Koby Allen during a training exercise. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

What is a typical day like in your job? 

My job changes from day to day. One day could be a normal day in the office doing administrative work or conducting briefings to leadership, while other days I could be out at training areas with my soldiers and civilian police officers working on our tactics and marksmanship skills. Some days I work shifts conducting law enforcement patrols on Army installations on Oahu, and some days I even do undercover surveillance depending the criminal activity occurring. This type of schedule definitely keeps things interesting from day to day.  

What has been the most rewarding moment in your military career so far?  

Definitely leading soldiers. Seeing them develop through the training we conduct and seeing them come together as a cohesive team makes everything worthwhile.  

Why are you proud to be a member of the U.S. Army? 

I am proud because I get the great opportunity to lead America’s sons and daughters as an officer. It is truly a privilege to be entrusted with their lives and something I do not take lightly.   

How did your Penn State education and experience position you for your military career? 

Of all of the programs I explored, the SRA program fit with my goals the most. I always wanted to pursue counterterrorism, law enforcement, or some form of homeland security for a career path, and this program was the perfect way to kick-start that. It gave me the foundational understanding of security and anti-terrorism concepts that we use on a day-to-day basis as military police. I couldn’t have picked a better degree to posture myself better for becoming a military police officer.  

How do you draw on the skills and knowledge you gained at Penn State in your job today?  

Some of the projects we did in the SRA program regarding intelligence analysis and overall security definitely translated directly to my work as a military police officer. In my role as SWAT commander, I led an undercover task force that was tasked with pursuing criminals that were committing motor vehicle thefts regularly. This required me to analyze any and all intelligence we received in order to better posture ourselves for catching these criminals. Along with this, part of our role in the community as SWAT was educating the community on how to better posture themselves in the event of an active shooter. I was able to apply the security concepts I learned throughout my SRA program when we advised the community in these situations.   

Which class or instructor at Penn State made the biggest impact on you? 

I had a lot of great professors at Penn State, but Don Shemanski, professor of practice, always comes to mind whenever I am asked this question. His SRA 211 class my freshman year really piqued my interest in counterterrorism and I definitely had the most fun in that class. I was really excited when I got to have him again for SRA 421 my senior year due to how much I enjoyed his SRA 211 class. Professionally, his classes’ concepts with regards to intelligence analysis definitely have assisted me in my job and he has also inspired me to pursue being a professor at Penn State down the road.  

What advice do you have for military and ROTC students at IST and Penn State? 

Enjoy every moment of it and do as much as you can, not only in class but also outside of it through extracurricular activities. You get out what you put into it so make the most of your IST and Penn State experience by joining clubs and really investing yourself into the team projects IST has you do. Four years seems like a long time but it went very quick for me and it will definitely go quick for you.  

Last Updated November 17, 2021