Approximately 550 members of the Iowa National Guard's 133 Iron Battalion will be heading overseas this spring. They're the first of what's expected to be more than 2,000 members of the Iowa guard that will be activated.

The 133 Iron Battalion is made up of soldiers from seven different eastern Iowa armories. Those are in Charles City, Davenport, Dubuque, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, Oelwein, and Waterloo. According to Radio Iowa, this will be the first time in a decade the Iron Battalion has been federally mobilized. It will also be the fifth time in the last 20 years.

Colonel Mike Wunn, the spokesman for the Iowa National Guard, says "they're headed to the Middle East in what is referred to as Operation Spartan Shield." There are 27 countries in the operation.

During the deployment, currently expected to be about a year, Wunn says soldiers will be providing "area security and force protection types of missions... they do have a number of different military operational specialties that support that battalion. The majority of them, of course, are infantry soldiers--11-Bravo's--as they are referred to."

Send-off-ceremonies are expected for the end of May, though not yet confirmed. Soldiers will be sent to Fort Bliss, Texas before deploying overseas.

The announcement of the deployment of at least an additional 1,500 Iowa National Guard soldiers could come in approximately the next week, according to Wunn.