CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (NNS) -- U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and civilian ground and aviation units from U.S. 3rd Fleet, Navy Region Southwest, Camp Pendleton, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Cal Fire and the San Diego Sheriff's Department participated in a Wildland Firefighting Exercise April 28-30.
This exercise, the eighth iteration of its kind, provides ready, trained and certified military and civilian resources to combat wildland fires in the region and culminates with a cooperative effort to extinguish a simulated wildland fire in order to prepare for the 2015 fire season.
The first day of the exercise consisted of mutual aid and immediate response procedures. The second day concentrated on command, control and communication. The final day consisted of field-training exercises and a media event to display combined air-ground firefighting operations.
"We really appreciate you coming out today to witness the demonstration, which serves as a training certification for some of our aircrew and ground teams that will be on the front lines of wildland firefighting duty this summer," said Brig. Gen. Ted Banta, commanding general of Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Installations West. "Obviously we had a tough year last year and we're expecting another tough year this year, so this is a wonderful opportunity to focus on those training capabilities that we'll have ready for, if and when, the fires kick off."
U.S. 3rd Fleet provided an MH-60 Nighthawk helicopter assigned to the "Merlins" of Sea Combat Squadron 3 to participate in the exercise, which can carry up to 420 gallons of water in an attached Bambi bucket outfitted below the helicopter.
"Last year, the Navy-Marine Corps team was able to respond to San Diego's call for firefighting in under one hour and continued that support, that involved nearly 30 aircraft, operating over two days," said Lt. Col. Austin Miller of Marine Corps Installations West.
This training assists in preparing U.S. military and civilian personnel and equipment to respond, including immediate response, to wildfires in Southern California for the protection of Southern California's communities as a part of Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA).
"San Diego County has suffered some of the most destructive wildland fires in American history and one of the lessons we took from these fires is that no single agency is capable of dealing with these megafires," said Cal Fire San Diego and San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mitchum.
Joint, interagency and international relationships strengthen U.S. 3rd Fleet's ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f/
For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f/.