ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - At the Capitol Wednesday, Governor Mark Dayton announced who will be leading the Minnesota National Guard into the future.
Governor Dayton has spent the summer interviewing candidates to replace Adjutant General Richard Nash, who retires at the end of October. The governor didn't have to look far.
For an organization that respects rank, Governor Dayton chose rank in naming Major General Jon Jensen to lead the Minnesota National Guard.
"You will get my best,” said Jensen. “I will work hard every single day to ensure that you have the resources and the support both inside the organization and throughout the communities here in Minnesota."
General Jensen is the current Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division.
He'll take over the 10th largest National Guard in the nation. It has 13,000 members who have been repeatedly deployed in the war on terrorism. Among them are also soldiers who recently trained in NATO exercises in Estonia.
The transition in leadership comes as the guard is on standby for hurricane relief in Texas. So far, roughly six states have sent in guardsmen for the rescue and relief efforts.
Current Minnesota Adjutant General Nash says Minnesota has provided the National Guard Bureau with a list of equipment and details of how fast they could deploy.
“So, until we're asked, and last night the Adjutant General in Texas said ‘Don't send anybody,’ we'll call if we need it, additional assets," said Nash.
If Texas does call, the most likely asset they'd need are the Chinook helicopters from the 211th Aviation Unit in St. Cloud. In addition to heavy lift capabilities, they can carry up to 35 people, which is ideal for evacuations.
Dayton has already pre-approved any request coming in from Texas.
“We have a joint partnership, relationship with all of the states where when asked in this type of an emergency, we will respond and we are prepared and thanks to General Nash,” said Dayton. “The Minnesota National Guard is prepared to respond immediately if asked."
General Nash says the National Guard Bureau has already drawn up plans to deploy as many as 30,000 troops and airmen, if needed. By comparison, 50,000 troops were sent in after Hurricane Katrina. But he emphasizes, that so far the State of Texas has not asked for the help.