A press release from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
At the request of the National Interagency Fire Center, approximately 200 U.S. Army Soldiers will support a wildland fire ground response operation in Northern California. U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), U.S. Northern Command’s Joint Force Land Component Command, will provide operational command of the active-duty military ground forces in support of federal and state efforts.
“This request marks the fortieth time federal military ground forces have been mobilized to support wildland firefighting response efforts in a decades-long interagency agreement,” said Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, ARNORTH and JFLCC commander. “We had a very active fire season last year, employing ground forces from both the Army and Marine Corps in California, and are proud to once again support NIFC and the state.”
The supporting units, the 23rd Brigade Engineer Battalion and the 2-3 Infantry Battalion, both from the1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, I Corps, assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Washington, will assist with wildland fire response efforts on the Dixie Fire in the Lassen National Forest, Lassen Volcanic National Park and Plumas National Forest.
Beginning Monday, Aug. 30 at JBLM, the Soldiers will be outfitted with wildland fire personal protective equipment during NIFC-led training, which will cover the basics of wildland fire suppression and firefighter safety. Upon completion of training at JBLM, the Soldiers will deploy to Northern California to conduct additional fireline training prior to serving as hand crews assisting with wildfire suppression on the Dixie Fire.
“The rigorous training and certification process our Soldiers undergo, prior to operating in a firefighting environment, will ensure that once deployed, they will safely augment federal wildland fire fighting capabilities in order to protect lives, natural and cultural resources, and property,” said Maj. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson, I Corps and JBLM commander.
While providing support, the Soldiers will be accompanied by experienced wildland fire strike team leaders and crew bosses.
The JFLCC, through USNORTHCOM, is the primary Department of Defense organization for coordinating defense support of civil authorities to help federal partners, like NIFC, respond to natural or man-made disasters.
In addition to the U.S. Army activation, eight U.S. Air Force C-130s equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems are currently fighting fires from the air, providing wildfire support across Western states.