Major Gen. Richard Nash, the head of the Minnesota National Guard, will extend his tenure at least through most of next year after Gov. Mark Dayton won a waiver to keep him at the helm of the 13,000-member organization.

Nash, who is 66, faced a mandatory retirement last month under federal National Guard Bureau rules. But Dayton, who described Nash as "indispensable," wrote a letter to the head of the bureau last year asking for a waiver of the requirement.

Dayton's office announced the waiver had been approved on Wednesday. Nash will continue serving as the head of the state Guard at least through Oct. 31, 2017, when he reaches the state's mandatory retirement age.

"Major General Nash is an exceptional leader who has served our state and nation with great distinction," Dayton said in a statement.

Dayton also said in his letter that he is considering approaching the Legislature to seek changes to allow Nash to serve through the end of Dayton's term in 2019.

Nash became the 30th Adjutant General of the State of Minnesota on Nov. 1, 2010, and has shepherded the Guard through the transition from wartime to peacetime missions. Much of his legacy includes focusing on rebuilding units that deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and in encouraging resiliency programs focusing on soldier well-being.

In his letter, Dayton highlighted what he said was Nash's essential service to Minnesota's Homeland Security and Emergency Response. He also pointed to Nash's work on the development of a rail and pipeline safety training facility at Camp Ripley, his work in preparing for the state hosting the Super Bowl in 2018, and his relationships with other military and political leaders, including ongoing partnerships with the militaries in Croatia and Norway.