Members of an Army Immediate Response Force that is part of the 82nd Airborne Division have been told to be ready to respond to riots in Minneapolis if necessary, Breitbart News has learned.
It is the same response force that was sent to Iraq to respond to Iranian-backed protests in Iraq late last year. Members of the battalion were given the message Saturday morning.
Members of the unit have been told to be ready to deploy to Minneapolis within two hours if necessary, but to remain flexible to deploy elsewhere.
A defense official on background disputed that the 82nd has been “placed on alert for the situation in Minnesota.”
However, some members of the unit were explicitly told to prepare for a potential deployment and had already began packing.
The Pentagon said Saturday in a statement that it has increased the alert status of “several units.”
“As a prudent planning measure, the department has directed U.S. Northern Command to increase the alert status of several units should they be requested by the Governor to support Minnesota authorities,” said Pentagon Chief Spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman.
“These are units that normally maintain a 48-hour recall to support state civil authorities for several contingencies (like natural disasters) and are now on 4-hour status,” he said.
The alert comes as Minneapolis and several major cities across America are facing riots and looting following the death of 47-year-old black man George Floyd, after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
In recent days, rioters have attacked buildings, police officers, and vehicles and looted stores, gas stations, and other local establishments.
Active-duty military police units have been told to be ready to deploy to Minneapolis, the Associated Press first reported Friday evening.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) sought to quell the violence late Friday evening, after rioters ignored his 8 p.m. curfew restriction.
Walz said Saturday morning he was considering accepting help from the active duty military. He has already deployed the Minnesota National Guard to assist local law enforcement.
This story has been updated to include a defense official comment.