Bush: Military Assets Available for Fire Aid
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2007 President Bush pledged today that military assets will continue to be available to state and local authorities fighting wildfires in Southern California. (Video)
Marine Corps Cpl. Amanda Smith, left, and Lance Cpl. Dylan A. Larsen, both of 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Air Station, Air Rescue and Fire Fighting, extinguish burning trees on Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct. 24, 2007. Photo by Lance Cpl. Albert F. Hunt, USMC
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Bush visited areas affected by the fires, bringing with him officials from the federal government, including Army Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command. “The reason he’s here, governor, is to listen to you, find out what assets we can continue to deploy to help you,” Bush said to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about Renuart.
Bush noted that National Guard personnel already are providing very important assistance to authorities battling the 18 wildfires that have burned almost 460,000 acres in counties across Southern California. “The Department of Defense is in this to help you, through NORTHCOM,” Bush said. “The military’s got assets that we can help you with.”
Bush thanked first responders and volunteers who have stepped forward to help citizens displaced by the fires. He emphasized that federal resources will continue to be available, and that he and the officials with him were in California “to assess the needs, to listen to the concerns, and to respond.”
There are 214 active-duty personnel, 72 Defense Department civilians, and 2,492 National Guardsmen engaged in either ground or airborne firefighting or security and relief operations, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today. In addition, the Defense Department is providing 18 fire engines, and about 17,000 California National Guardsmen are available for duty.
Eighteen military helicopters from the California Guard, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force are participating in the firefight, and 14 fixed-wing aircraft, including C-130 airplanes equipped with modular air firefighting systems, also are involved.