U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined a group of her colleagues to challenge a new retirement policy by the Army that would have tossed out scores of soldiers at the rank of captain and major at a reduced pension.

In an unusual move, the Army has relented.

It was a classic case of how the military sometimes operates. Former noncommissioned officers went to Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some have served for years as commissioned officers and risen through the ranks to become captains and majors. But when the Army wanted to deplete its ranks of captains and majors, the soldiers were forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank.

The soldiers stood to lose approximately $1,000 per month or just over $1 million over a 40-year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.

The former noncommissioned officers were subjected to the Army's use of something called Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB). Officers selected by the boards were forced to retire as soon as they reached 20 years of service.

But, under the current law, a soldier must serve at least eight years of active service as a commissioned officer to retire as a commissioned officer. Soldiers who serve 20 years total, but less than eight years as commissioned officers, were retired at their highest enlisted rank.

Klobuchar joined a list of other senators to challenge the plan. In December, Army Secretary John McHugh suspended the eight-year requirement for active commissioned service, allowing all who are retirement eligible to retire as officers.

"These soldiers have served their country honorably both as enlisted soldiers and, now, as officers," McHugh was quoted as saying in the Army Times. "We owe them nothing less."

Said Klobuchar of the move: "This misguided policy was needlessly stripping some of our military retirees of the benefits they'd earned, and I'm pleased that the Army has reversed course."

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434