About 1,000 members of the Iowa Army and Air National Guard are being mobilized to Washington D.C. for next week’s presidential inaugural. the Iowa troops are being pulled from 18 units in 13 cities and the force includes infantry, combat troops and a squadron of fighter jets.
Iowa Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says the focus will be on helping to manage people and vehicles — as huge crowds are expected. Hapgood says the mission is to create a safe environment where people can enjoy the moment.
Hapgood says: "If you look at the mission that we’re doing, it has a lot to do with managing people and vehicles. They’re expecting an enormous amount of both vehicles and people at this event and they need a great deal of assistance with that mission."
Iowa Guard officials got the request for help on Friday and he says the response was immediate. "What we’re particularly excited about is, you’re talking about a historic moment for our organization," Hapgood says. "To the best of our knowledge, we’ve never participated in a presidential inauguration and we’re absolutely honored to be able to join this event."
About 7,000 National Guard members from at least seven other states are being asked to help at the event, and most of those other states are in close proximity to Washington D.C. Iowa’s delegation is the largest from outside the East Coast region. Hapgood says Iowa was likely chosen to take part because, with an event like this, two key elements are needed.
"You’ve gotta’ have a force that’s ready to go in a moment’s notice and then you’ve got a force that has a record of being able to complete difficult missions," he says. "If you look at Iowa, we have an excellent reputation within the National Guard community and in the Department of Defense for not only having ready forces but forces that execute whenever we’re called."
It’s expected the mission will last about ten days. Guard units are being activated from the following cities: Boone, Johnston, Carroll, Des Moines, LeMars, Sioux City, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Davenport, Council Bluffs, Denison, Red Oak and Shenandoah.