The U.S. Senate confirmed the head of the Minnesota National Guard to lead the Army National Guard's forces nationally.
The promotion of Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen to director of the Army National Guard gives him responsibility for overseeing all programs and policies for roughly 350,000 soldiers in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.
In a statement released Monday night after the voice vote confirming President Donald Trump's nomination, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said, "Our nation will benefit from his leadership and decades of experience and commitment to those serving in the National Guard. We are grateful for the Major General's commitment to service members and their families, whom he has supported through numerous deployments, as well as his work to help Minnesotans through several natural disasters."
The rise to the national post also means a third star for Jensen, who has served as Minnesota's adjutant general since November 2017, leading 13,000 citizen soldiers and airmen operating in 62 locations throughout the state.
Jensen has been the Guard's top officer in Minnesota during the state's most challenging times in many years.
In late May, the Guard offered free COVID-19 testing in Minneapolis and five other locations across the state.
Soon afterward, more than 7,000 members of the Guard were called up for duty after George Floyd's death on May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis. Their duties ranged from street patrols to preparing food to handling logistics.
Early this month, Jensen took on past problems of sexual assault and harassment among Guard members. He said the Guard needs to make information about reporting sexual assault more readily available, speed investigations when allegations surface and change military code to make it easier to enforce rules against such conduct.
Jensen ordered an assessment, and in April 2019, the Guard reported its sexual assault numbers publicly for the first time.
Jensen succeeds Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, who also was confirmed Monday by the Senate as the next chief of the National Guard Bureau. That promotion comes with a seat on the president's Joint Chiefs of Staff.
An Iowa native and Northwest Missouri State University graduate, Jensen has served in the Guard for 37 years. He has been deployed to Kuwait, Bosnia and twice to Iraq while serving with the 34th Infantry Division. He commanded the division before becoming his state's adjutant general.
A replacement for Jensen as Minnesota's adjutant general awaits a nomination from Gov. Tim Walz.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482