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National Guard deployments, including from Charles City armory, to go forward

By Bob Steenson,

Iowa National Guard overseas deployments that were announced in February are still planned to go ahead, despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the Guard said.

The deployment includes soldiers from the Charles City National Guard Armory.

As part of the Army’s ongoing overseas operations, the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa Army National Guard received deployment orders for Operation Spartan Shield.

Known as the Ironman Battalion, the deployment will include about 550 soldiers mobilizing from National Guard armories in Charles City, Davenport, Dubuque, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, Oelwein and Waterloo. They are scheduled to be leaving in May.

“Those units identified for mobilization will continue with their scheduled training and pre-deployment activities,” said Col. Michael Wunn, the Iowa National Guard public relations officer.

“Unit commanders have instituted specific screening protocols to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure to these soldiers as they prepared to deploy overseas later this spring.”

Their primary mission will involve area security and force protection in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, which encompasses 27 countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In June, two troops from the 113th Cavalry Regiment, from Le Mars and Johnston, will deploy about 130 soldiers to Operation Enduring Freedom in the U.S. Africa Command.

Nine Iowa National Guard service members are currently activated to support the State Emergency Operations Center at Joint Forces Headquarters in Johnston.

“As the state’s response to COVID-19 progresses, the Iowa National Guard is prepared to activate additional service members if necessary to support potential missions such as the storage, transportation and delivery of personal protective gear and providing tents to effected communities,” Wunn said in a released statement.

“In an effort to protect the health of service members, civilian employees and communities at large, the Iowa National Guard has closed the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, the Camp Dodge Wellness Center and the USO. All Iowa National Guard armory and facility rentals have been canceled through May 19,” he said.

The Iowa National Guard is also enforcing a Department of Defense-wide travel restriction, which prohibits non-essential travel for service members and federal employees.

It is also implementing telework options to reduce the number of personnel in facilities and relying on mission essential personnel to maintain critical functions and operations.

“We urge our personnel and our communities to follow the Centers for Disease Control’s best practices, remain calm and use good judgement as we all work together to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Wunn said.