Nov. 21, 2007 —
U.S. Northern Command is supporting the deployment of Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) -equipped C-130 aircraft and supporting personnel to Channel Islands Air National Guard Station in anticipation of a Santa Ana wind event in Southern California, increasing the possibility of forest fires similar to those which ravaged areas of the state in late October.
MAFFS capable aircraft and aircrew personnel arrived at Channel Islands earlier today (Nov. 20) .
“Normally, we are sent when all commercially available assets have been fully tasked,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Anderson, a MAFFS deputy mission commander with the Wyoming Air National Guard, which owns two of the four MAFFS aircraft deployed to California .
“We respond (to wildfires) when we’re called, but we’re usually sitting at home, watching the news on TV and wondering if they’re going to call us.”
USNORTHCOM responded to a formal Request for Assistance from the U.S. Forest Service to pre-deploy the MAFFS units in advance of any fires in order to forestall or shorten wildfires should they flare if the Santa Ana winds pick as forecast.
USNORTHCOM responded to the USFS request by deploying two aircraft from the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, and two from the 302d Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
According to Anderson, MAFFS capable aircrews train with the U.S. Forest Service annually in order to maintain their qualifications to fly firefighting missions in support of the Forest Service.
USNORTHCOM, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the unified combatant command responsible for defending the homeland and providing defense support of civil authorities.
USNORTHCOM anticipates requests, actions and requirements to support developing situations. Its subordinate commands are Joint Forces Headquarters National Capital Region, Joint Task Force Alaska, Joint Task Force Civil Support, Joint Task Force North and Standing Joint Force Headquarters North.
DoD personnel in the affected area include nearly 300,000 servicemen and women, government employees and their families. The DoD can bring additional capabilities as part of a larger federal response when requested by the state and approved by the Secretary of Defense.