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A group of approximately 200 active-duty Soldiers who have been assisting with fighting the Dixie Fire in northern California, were released on September 30. The Soldiers, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, WA, worked tirelessly on the Dixie Fire, assisting with various fireline operational duties. For a month, they worked alongside other firefighting resources battling California’s second largest wildfire in history. The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) and the Department of Defense (DoD) have been wildland firefighting partner for decades, working together to provide aircraft and personnel to serve as wildland firefighters. This is the 40th time since 1987 that active-duty military personnel have been mobilized to serve as wildland firefighters.
Additionally, the four remaining Modular Aerial Firefighting Systems (MAFFS-equipped) C-130 aircraft were released at the end of the operational period on Wednesday, September 29, effectively ending the current mobilization of MAFFS-equipped aircraft for wildland firefighting support. In total, there were eight aircraft in the MAFFS program that were used to bolster wildfire suppression efforts when all commercial airtankers were fully committed or not readily available. The initial activation of the MAFFS occurred on June 25, a month earlier than in 2020 and the earliest activation in a decade.
“The DoD provided significant contributions to our efforts to reduce threats from wildland fires by providing critical resources, such as eight Modular Aerial Firefighting Systems (MAFFS), two Digital Real Time Infrared (DRTI) platforms, and a half battalion of active-duty military personnel for firefighting. These military resources were crucial in our efforts to manage and suppress many fires throughout the Country,” said Josh Simmons, NMAC Chair. “The NMAC, sincerely appreciate and thank the Department of Defense for their assistance and continued partnership to protect communities, infrastructure, and valuable cultural and natural resources.”