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Iowa National Guard Deploying 250 Members To U.S. Capitol Ahead Of Inauguration

Charlie Neibergall
Iowa National Guard commander Adjutant General Benjamin Corell speaks during a news conference last August in Cedar Rapids.

The head of the Iowa National Guard said Thursday 250 soldiers and airmen will be deployed to Washington, D.C. to help with security around the presidential inauguration in the wake of last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol and amid the potential for more violence from pro-Trump extremists.

Adjutant General Benjamin Corell said they are expected to travel to the U.S. Capitol area this weekend. He said they previously planned to send 15 airmen.

"Over the last couple days, based on a request from General Hokanson at the National Guard Bureau, they’ve asked for increased support from all national guards," Corell said. "So in communication with the governor yesterday, we came to the number of 250 additional Iowa National Guard that will move to the capitol region.”

Corell said the Iowa National Guard will also be ready to respond if the Iowa Department of Public Safety asks for help with security at the Iowa Capitol building in Des Moines. The FBI has warned of plans for armed protests at state capitols this weekend and into next week.

"I've been in communication with [DPS] Commissioner Bayens, and he feels that he has—through local law enforcement, through DPS and other state agencies—they are confident that they have the ability to maintain security and maintain anyone who wants to protest, through their First Amendment rights, the ability to do so safely," Corell said. "I do have National Guard forces that are trained, they are equipped, and they are ready to respond within a period of time, once we're notified, if events on the ground would require additional forces to help within the state of Iowa."

Corell made his remarks to reporters after he delivered the annual Condition of the Guard address to state lawmakers.

In that speech, he described the many ways Iowa National Guard members helped with the various challenges of 2020. He said they drove a distance nearly equal to 17 trips around the earth delivering PPE and transporting Test Iowa lab samples across the state.

The Iowa National Guard conducted contact tracing, delivered food to food banks, moved thousands of tons of debris after the derecho, and helped with election cybersecurity.

"Not since the historic floods of 2008 has the Iowa National Guard played such a diverse role in coming to the aid of Iowans during their time of need," Corell said.

They did all this while having the highest number of members deployed overseas in more than 10 years.