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Answer Man: Is Walz's rank rank?

Dear Answer Man, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, the DFL nominee for governor, claims to have retired as a command sergeant major in the Army National Guard, making him the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress. But is that true? My understanding...

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Dear Answer Man: I know your expertise extends far and wide, but what about matters pertaining to the military? U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, the DFL nominee for governor, claims to have retired as a command sergeant major in the Army National Guard, making him the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress. But is that true? My understanding is that he did not fulfill all the requirements to hold the rank of command sergeant major, so how can he claim to have been a CSM, as he does in his campaign materials and promotions? — Inflated rank

Being all-knowing, I recognize that most civilians don’t know the difference between a command sergeant major and first sergeant. But military people tend to be particular about such matters. Having once been a lowly private myself, I know how scary command sergeant majors can be. It is a lofty enlisted rank in the Army, second only to Sergeant Major of the Army.

I turned to the Minnesota National Guard to resolve the question. When a person is promoted to command sergeant major, the promotion is considered conditional until the solider completes U.S. Army Sergeant Major Academy. Another clause stipulates that the solider will hold the position for two years after graduation.

Walz retired as a command sergeant major, but his rank was later changed to Master Sergeant, one rank below, because he did not complete the requirements to hold the rank into retirement, according to documents provided by the Minnesota Army National Guard. Consequently, Walz’s retirement benefits are those of a master sergeant, not a command sergeant major.

Even so, it is OK for Walz to cite his CSM rank in his biography and campaign materials because he, in fact, served in that rank, according to Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens of the Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs Office.

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"In his case, Tim Walz served as a Command Sergeant Major in the Minnesota National Guard, and it was the highest and last rank that he held in our organization," Heusdens said. "It is correct for him to say that he served as a command sergeant major."

Related Topics: TIM WALZ
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