In a surprising move, US Senator Scott Brown has transferred out of the Massachusetts Army National Guard to a unit in Maryland, allowing him to work in a major position at the National Guard’s Pentagon office.
Brown, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and is the ranking member on the subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the nation’s National Guard system, is now the assistant to Colonel Christian Rofrano, the chief counsel of the National Guard Bureau. Brown’s new duties require him to work two full days a month and up to two weeks during the summer, a schedule that applies to all Guard members.
In an interview Tuesday, Brown said he requested to be moved out of Massachusetts because the focus of news organizations and national Democrats on his Guard record made it untenable to continue serving here.
The issue has been an undercurrent in the US Senate race for several months as Brown prepares to battle Elizabeth Warren, the probable Democratic nominee, in what will be a highly watched national campaign. But Brown’s transfer to the top Guard job at the Pentagon could provide his rivals with ammunition to question whether he has received special treatment because he is a senator.
Brown, however, said it was politics that pushed him out of Massachusetts.
“I didn’t want to politicize my record,’’ Brown said. “I wanted to go to a place where I would be treated on the merits. . . . I didn’t want any reference that Scott got special preference.’’
The 52-year-old senator, who has served in the Massachusetts Army National Guard for 33 years, said he made the move to the Maryland unit several weeks ago after the Massachusetts Guard approved his promotion from lieutenant colonel to colonel in November.
His transfer is unexpected considering his strong identification with the Massachusetts unit.
The relocation prompted speculation that Brown was forced to move because there was no slot available in Massachusetts that would accommodate his legal training and new rank as colonel. That would have forced his retirement from military service in June, according to Guard regulations.
“I don’t have that information,’’ Brown said. “There are colonel slots, whether I was going [to continue to] to be JAG, I don’t know,’’ he added, referring to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, a unit that provides legal services to the Army.
Lieutenant Colonel James Sahady, Massachusetts Guard spokesman, said the state unit did have an opening for him, if Brown had wished to remain here. But he said it is not unusual for members of the state guard to transfer to units in other states.
Brown said he had applied for the position as assistant to Rofrano after finding the opening on the National Guard’s website. He said he put together a packet that included his resume, his evaluation reports, and his physical training tests, and submitted them to the bureau.
An aide in Rofrano’s office referred inquires to the National Guard’s public relations office. By late Tuesday night, the office had not responded to a Globe call seeking details on Brown’s Pentagon appointment.
Asked how he can handle a top job at the Guard’s central office while serving in the Senate, Brown said it will be “exceedingly beneficial’’ to the Guard to have him on Capitol Hill.
In 1994, Brown, a Boston College law graduate, joined the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, which allowed him to defend soldiers facing disciplinary charges. The Massachusetts National Guard has faced a blizzard of requests for Brown’s military record in recent months, prompting him in January to disclose a complete version of the documents. Earlier, the guard had released only heavily redacted records.
Those records show that for nearly half of 2005, Brown was placed in retirement after he had been twice been passed over for promotion from major to lieutenant colonel because he had not completed the required courses. He was reinstated when he graduated later that year. A year later he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Brown has also been forced to publicly deny unsubstantiated rumors that he may have sought to avoid combat duty. He has said he was fully prepared to deploy overseas.
Brown said he is passionate about his long involvement with the Guard, saying it has been a central part of his life since he joined when he was in college.
“It’s something that has been one of the most meaningful experiences in my life,’’ he said.
Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.