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Marines participate in wildland firefighting exercise

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CalFire Marines

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, California — Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California hosted the Wild Land Fire Fighting Exercise 2016 at Las Pulgas Lake, May 5.

The Wild Land Fire Fighting Exercise 2016 combines elements of aviation and ground units from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, 3rd Marine Air Wing, Navy Region Southwest, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

“This exercise is intended to highlight the coordination, planning and teamwork between the military and our partners with CAL Fire, 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, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

“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.”

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161, Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron 169, Marine Heavy and Helicopter Squadron 465, 3rd Marine Air Wing, and U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3 participated in the annual exercise, providing ready, trained and certified military and civilian resources to combat wildland fires in the region.

The training utilized two types of Marine Corps aircraft, the UF-1Y Huey and the MV-22 ‘Osprey, and the MH-69R, which is operated by the Navy. The aircraft were equipped with a water delivery system capable of carrying up to 420 gallons of water.

“We are going to be using state, federal and military aircraft,” said Jeff Cunliff-Owen, the assistant chief of the Camp Pendleton Fire Department. “They are going to be in this big exercise, coordinating things and making sure everybody is on the same page for this upcoming fire season.”

The exercise was the ninth iteration of its kind and showcased the employment of trained and certified military and civilian personnel using aircraft to combat wildland fires in the region.

“While our primary mission is to train Marines and Sailors for combat mission’s overseas, we have a responsibility to our surrounding communities,” said Maj. Christopher L. Janecek, aviation officer, MCI-West.

CAL Fire San Diego trains with military year round in order to improve cohesion and procedures to fight fires on Camp Pendleton and the San Diego Area.

The exercise takes place during Wild Fire Awareness Week when CAL Fire and their partner agencies set an effort to raise awareness to ensure citizens are prepared for fire season.

By Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Necoechea

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