A third retired command sergeant major is speaking out against Gov. Tim Walz, saying he “let his soldiers down” by avoiding a deployment to Iraq in 2005 before running for Congress.
Doug Julin worked his way up to division command sergeant major (CSM) before he retired from the Minnesota National Guard in 2012 after serving 35 years.
“This was a backdoor deal,” Julin said of Walz not going on the mission.
Julin is the third retired CSM to speak with Alpha News this month about a story that all three say deserves more attention.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dr. Scott Jensen called a press conference Thursday to draw attention to the story. He was joined by retired Command Sergeant Major Tom Behrends, who ended up replacing Walz on the deployment.
“In my eyes, today is the day that Tim Walz is indicted for lack of leadership and an unwillingness to do his duty,” Jensen said.
Gov. Walz responded a short time later while he attended a dedication of a new Medal of Honor Memorial on the Capitol grounds.
“I don’t know if Tom just disagrees with my politics or whatever, but my record speaks for itself and my accomplishments in uniform speak for itself, and there’s many people in this crowd, too, that I served with,” Walz told KSTP. “It’s just unfortunate.”
‘He let the soldiers down’
Julin said a group of senior leaders met in early 2005 to get on the same page about the deployment. He said six battalions in total were going on the Iraq mission and four were from Minnesota. Julin recalled that Walz was at this meeting because he had just been conditionally promoted to the rank of command sergeant major of the First Battalion-125th Field Artillery. According to Julin, Walz said he would be going on the deployment.
A short time later, Walz was talking about running for Congress but again said he would be going on the deployment, according to Julin.
“I’m going forward,” Julin recalls Walz saying. “Then out of nowhere in June of 2005, Tom Behrends is there as the new CSM.”
Julin said he was most upset with how it was handled because Walz didn’t come to him as brigade command sergeant major, the position he held at the time.
“He went around my authority to get out of the position. I probably would have told him ‘No, you’re going on the deployment,’” Julin said.
“At that point in time my focus wasn’t on Tim Walz walking out the door. My focus was on all the enlisted. I had to make sure all the soldiers had their head on straight. Their health and welfare were at the forefront, and we had to make sure they had everything they needed to do their jobs,” he added.
He said, however, that Walz pulling out set a tone.
“Soldiers are thinking, ‘What does he know that I don’t know?’ That’s the kind of message it sends,” he said.
“I don’t know anybody that wanted to go to war then, but we went because we were tasked to do it,” Julin added.
Julin said he spoke with Walz directly in 2018 after Behrends sent a letter to the media about Walz’s military record. He said he expressed his frustration and concerns to Walz, who said he appreciated Julin talking to him about it, but “that was about it,” Julin said.
Julin told Alpha News he doesn’t really take issue with Walz using the CSM title after not completing all of the requirements to earn the rank. What matters to him most is how he walked away from his troops.
He wanted to share his story ahead of the election because he believes Minnesotans deserve better.
“Why should we be quiet? He uses the military to promote himself when he abandoned his soldiers,” he said. “He let the soldiers down. How can you be entrusted to be the governor of Minnesota when if something is not to your liking, you quit or you serve yourself and not others?”
A spokesperson for Walz previously said this topic has been covered before and referred Alpha News to a past story where Walz said “normally this type of partisan political attack only comes from one who’s never worn a uniform.”