CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (NNS) -- U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and civilian ground and aviation units from U.S. 3rd Fleet, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) and the San Diego Sheriff's Department participated in the 2016 Wildland Firefighting Exercise, May 5.
This exercise 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 preparation for the 2016 fire season.
"This exercise is intended to highlight the coordination, planning, and teamwork between the military and our partners with CAL Fire, [and] with the San Diego Sheriff's Department all in support of fighting a common foe, which is wildland fires," said Brig. Gen. Edward D. Banta, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West, MCB Camp Pendleton.
U.S. 3rd Fleet provided an MH-60 Knighthawk helicopter, assigned to the "Merlins" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3, for the exercise. The MH-60 can carry up to 420 gallons of water in an attached bucket outfitted below the helicopter.
"The pilots, aircrew, and maintainers that fly and maintain our aircraft are the same Sailors and Marines that deploy around the world in defense of our nation, and we are happy to assist our neighbors at home in Southern California," said Cmdr. Rick Schmaeling of Commander, Navy Region Southwest. "A great amount of effort goes into aerial firefighting, and we thank CAL Fire for dedicating their time to train our pilots and aircrew each year and look forward to maintaining this relationship in the future."
An MV-22 "Osprey" assigned to Marine Medium Tilt-Rotor Squadron (VMM) 165, based at MCB Camp Pendleton, participated alongside a UH-1Y "Huey" from CAL Fire's fire attack vehicle fleet.
This training helps prepare U.S. military and civilian personnel and equipment to rapidly and more efficiently respond to wildfires in Southern California and protect Southern California's communities as a part of Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA).
"The partnership here in San Diego is something that is unique," said Tom Porter, the CAL Fire Southern Region chief. "No place else in the nation has as robust a group of dedicated agencies working together to bring the fight to a fire when it happens."
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/.