Military Support in Wildland Fire Suppression
1988 - 2003


  • On August 24, an Army battalion from Fort Hood, Texas, was mobilized to assist civilian firefighting crews on the firelines on the Lolo National Forest in Montana.


  • One military battalion from Ft. Riley, Kansas assisted with wildland fires in Oregon from July 23 through August 16. They were first assigned to the Monument fire near Unity, Oregon, on the Malheur National Forest. On August 3, this 500-person unit was moved to the Tiller Complex near Tiller, Oregon, on the Umpqua National Forest.
  • In mid-June, military C-130 aircraft were mobilized to augment civilian airtanker resources. These eight aircraft flew missions from airtanker bases in Colorado Springs, Colorado; San Bernardino, California; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Boise, Idaho; and Spokane, Washington. The C-130s dropped about 1.6 million gallons of retardant until they were released on August 19.


  • Two army battalions from Fort Lewis, Washington, formed Task Force Phoenix Blaze and were assigned to the Virginia Lake fire complex in Washington state. The troops underwent special training both at their post and in the field once they arrived on August 24. Soldiers fought fire at the complex until September 3.
  • Eight Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130 airplanes supplemented retardant airtanker forces stretched thin by several large fires in Washington and Oregon.


  • Task Force Thunder, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, supported efforts on the Burgdorf Junction fire on the Payette National Forest near McCall, Idaho.  
  • Task Force Wildfire, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, from Camp Pendleton, California, assisted firefighting efforts on the Clear Creek fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near Salmon, Idaho.  
  • Task Force Lumberjack, 20th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, worked on the Upper Nine Mile Complex in the Lolo National Forest near Huson, Montana. 
  • Task Force Four, 3rd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, helped fight fires on the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana.
  • The fifth military Task Force is the Army's 1st Battalion, 321st Artillery from Fort Bragg, North Carolina were assigned to the Troy South fire on the Kootenai National Forest.


  • Eight C-130 aircraft were converted to air tankers to assist firefighting efforts in northern California.
  • An Army battalion from Fort Carson, Colorado, and a Marine battalion from Camp Pendleton, California, also assisted with firefighting efforts.


  • Seven military battalions were activated to assist during the season for a total of nearly 5,000 military personnel to help bolster the civilian forces. The battalions included:
  • Two Marine battalions from Camp Pendleton, California
  • Five Army battalions; two from Ft. Hood, Texas, two from Ft. Lewis, Washington, and one from Ft. Riley, Kansas
  • Eight C-130 aircraft were converted to airtankers to assist firefighting efforts in Idaho, Washington and Montana.


  • Four Army battalions, two from Ft. Lewis, Washington, and two from Ft. Carson, Colorado, assisted wildland firefighting efforts in Oregon and California, along with,
  • Eight C-130 aircraft were converted to airtankers to assist firefighting efforts in southern California.


  • Four Army battalions, two from Ft. Lewis, Washington, one from Ft. Carson, Colorado, and one from Ft. Riley, Kansas, worked on wildland fires in Idaho and Oregon, along with,
  • 19 Helicopters from Ft. Campbell, and
  • Eight C-130 aircraft converted to airtankers to assist firefighting efforts in Arizona and California.


  • Six Army battalions and two Marine battalions assisted with firefighting efforts during the notorious Yellowstone fires, along with:
  • 57 helicopters, including two OV-10 Mohawks used with infrared scanners, and
  • Eight C-130 aircraft converted to airtankers.

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