2008 Defense Support for Wildfire Response

Wednesday July 9, 2008

What is it?

Coordinating Department of Defense (DOD) assistance to the civilian wildland firefighting effort is a defense support of civil authorities mission of U.S. Army North. The number of large fires and the civilian firefighting resource commitments have increased significantly on a national scale since June 20, when severe thunderstorms passed over northern California igniting more than 1,300 fires. Burning conditions are expected to become more severe this summer's wildland fire season throughout the West, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Eight different federal agencies, at the fire center, coordinate national fire planning and operations.

What has the Army done?

U.S. Army North has deployed its Region X Defense Coordinating Officer and Element to the National Interagency Fire Center and its Region IX Defense Coordinating Officer and Element to the northern California Regional Response Coordination Center in Sacramento, Calif. Their mission is to coordinate federal requests for DOD assistance for the 2008 wildland fire response.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

U.S. Army North's Region X Defense Coordinating Officer will remain the National Interagency Fire Center primary conduit to the DOD for wildland firefighting response. The defense coordinating officer will continue to staff a liaison officer position at the fire center to advise on DOD capabilities, enhance working relationships and provide support to the federal wildland firefighting mission.

Why is this important to the Army?

The Army has a long tradition of supporting civil authorities to save lives, reduce suffering and mitigate property damage, while maintaining its primary mission of fighting and winning the nation's wars. Since 1973, DOD aircraft have been employed for wildfire response, and 33 military ground battalions have served on firelines since 1988. U.S. Army North, as the Army service component command of U.S. Northern Command, stands ready to provide teams of highly skilled professionals and modern equipment in support of its federal partners in wildfire response.


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"The California National Guard is actively engaged in responding to the wildfires in northern California by providing assistance to local authorities and to the citizens of the affected communities. We continue to do this through air assets and personnel and equipment on the ground. The California Guard is proud of its ability to respond rapidly to those citizens affected by this horrible disaster."

- Army Maj. Gen. William Wade, California adjutant general

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