DoD, U.S Northern Command assets, personnel supported Southern California firefighting efforts

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | October 30, 2007

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The Department of Defense deployed, under the operational control of U.S. Northern Command, unique military capabilities to support local, state and federal emergency response efforts in Southern California.

The following is a list of Department of Defense assets and personnel that were used to support those efforts:

Asset Coordination Support:

• Army North deployed the Command Assessment Element, Operational Command Post, and Region IX Defense Coordinating Officer with a Defense Coordinating Element team to support the Joint Field Office in Pasadena, Calif., to assess and coordinate defense support of civil authorities to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for wildland firefighting in Southern California. The Region X DCO deployed with a DCE team to support the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. DCOs and DCEs work very closely with federal, state and local officials to determine what unique DoD capabilities can be used to assist in mitigating the effects of a natural or manmade disaster.

Air Firefighting Support:

• Six C-130 Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS) equipped aircraft and 36 support personnel deployed to Channel Islands Air National Guard Base, Calif., at the request of the National Interagency Firefighting Center to assist in fighting the wildfires. Two planes and crews are from the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing; two are from the Air Force Reserve's 302d Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and two are from the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing. Collectively, the six planes and crews conducted 74 sorties, dropping a total of 205,452 gallons of fire retardant.

• Air Forces Northern flew RQ-4 Global Hawk, U-2, and P-3 Orion aircraft to provide real-time video and still photos to civil authorities on the ground. The video and still photos proved extremely useful to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention and firefighters on the ground. Not only did they provide a better overall picture of the fires, but also detailed fire data to decision makers. Hot spots were identified throughout the flights, and firefighters were re-directed to those locations to extinguish the fires. The Global Hawk and U-2 aircraft flew out of Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and belong to the Air Force's 9th Reconnaissance Wing. The Orion aircraft flew out of Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., and belongs to the Navy's Patrol Squadron 46 from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.

Ground Firefighting Support:

• Under Mutual Aid Agreements, Navy firefighting efforts supported CalFire (California Department of Forestry) for air and ground crews combating wildfires in San Diego County with Navy-Federal firefighters, UH-1 and MH-60 firefighting-equipped helicopters and other firefighting equipment.

• The Navy provided two SH-60 helicopters with Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensors and conducted fire perimeter mapping. • The Marine Corps installations in the San Diego area provided firefighting equipment and personnel to support firefighting efforts in San Diego County.

• The Navy provided four bulldozers and 41 personnel and the Marine Corps provided three bulldozers and 36 personnel to support Task Force Bulldozer, which assisted firefighting efforts by building firebreaks to help prevent further spread of fires

Facilities Support:

• DoD provided FEMA two military installations in Southern California to be the Forward Staging Areas for federal supplies flowing south from the FEMA logistics center at Moffitt Field, Calif. DoD identified Naval Air Station North Island and March Air Reserve Base as the FOSA.

• The Navy provided 8,500 cots for the Qualcomm Stadium Shelter.

• Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) provided an emergency operations center to organize medical efforts for military personnel, dependents and civilians from other hospitals evacuated from the area.

• NMCSD accepted 38 patients from civilian hospitals that were forced to close or evacuate. The hospital also admitted 28 nursing home patients from Villa Rancho Bernardo. Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms provided 16 staff members to aid in the care of the nursing home patients. NMCSD also accepted 10 patients from Pomerado Hospital in Escondido and provided housing for 33 staff members and their families at the hospital.

• NMCSD provided primary care and preventive medicine services at seven locations for approximately 2,600 personnel. The hospital replenished medical supplies for dozens of community members who evacuated their homes without necessary medications. NMCSD donated 12 wheelchairs to the Qualcomm Stadium shelter and had volunteers handing out hot meals at the same location.

USNORTHCOM is the joint combatant command formed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities. The command is responsible for the operational control of all active-duty military responses to a disaster when requested by the state and ordered by the president and the secretary of defense. USNORTHCOM provided unique DoD capabilities for disaster response operations in support of the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of the Interior/National Interagency Fire Center, and state and local officials.