200 Soldiers from Washington State Base Activated To Fight Western Wildfires

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Some two hundred active-duty soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, will join firefighters as early as August 13, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning told reporters Monday.

The soldiers will be organized into ten crews of 20 individuals. 

All of them will be sent to fight the same wildfire, which is in the process of being identified.

The soldiers will be given Wildland Fire personal protective equipment and all of the gear they will need to serve as Wildland firefighters. Wildland is a division of the US Forest Service.

They will be trained by the Wildland fire agency personnel at JBLM beginning August 9. The training is expected to wrap up by August 12, and the soldiers are expected to begin working on a wildfire on August 13.

While working on a wildfire, the soldiers will be accompanied by experienced Wildland Fire strike team leaders and crew bosses from Wildland fire management agencies.

The US military has been a key partner in wildland firefighting for decades, providing aircraft and personnel to serve as Wildland firefighters.

Four military C-130s equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems are currently mobilized to serve as large air tankers and are operating from the Sacramento McClellan Airport in California.

This isn’t the first time US service members have helped on the fire lines.

Since 1987, active-duty military personnel have been mobilized to serve as Wildland firefighters a total of 37 times.

In 2017, 200 soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division based at JBLM were mobilized to work on the North Umpqua Complex wildfires in Oregon for 30 days.

The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group at the National Interagency Fire Center made the request.

Thousands of National Guardsmen throughout the region are already involved in the fire-fighting effort.

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