Joint Operations Field Training Exercise

July 20, 2006

Los Alamitos: Local law enforcement and fire agencies took part in a joint exercise with a San Diego contingent of United States Marines, Marine Air Group 46, stationed at Marine Corps Air Station, Mirimar. The three-day exercise started on July 18 and finished today.

"In California, we are always under threat of natural or man-made disasters, said Colonel Stephen Ganyard of Marine Air Group 46. "The Marine reservists who make up my command want to make sure that if state or local officials ask for our help, we are ready to respond within hours. Now is the time to learn how best to support local public safety, not after the disaster strikes."

Police officers and deputies from the Los Angeles police and county sheriff’s departments took part in the exercise, along with firefighters and paramedics from the Los Angeles city and county fire departments.

The exercise simulated the aftermath of an 8.0 earthquake in Los Angeles. The reservists assigned to Marine Air Group 46 represented federal military called in to support local police and fire. The goal is to quickly stabilize the impacted area and provide medical support, search and rescue, logistics like food and water distribution, and even aircraft refueling.

"The military can provide resources local police and fire don’t have," said Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell. "Today’s exercise let us practice together to make sure our communications worked across agencies. We wanted to make sure our equipment was compatible, right down to the nozzles used to refill the helicopters. After today, we’ll be even better prepared to respond to a disaster."

The exercise included approximately five scenarios that allowed the Marines and local agencies to test their ability to work together. Marines distributed food and water, and even showed how they could convert contaminated water to potable water. The Marines conducted search and rescue and triage with paramedics. Police demonstrated how they could respond to quell an unruly crowd at a Marine run food distribution center. The Marines demonstrated their ability to refuel police and fire helicopters in support of local rescues and medical evacuations.

"It’s important for everyone to realize that our response to a situation like this is purely humanitarian," said Colonel Ganyard. "This is not a matter of ‘the Marines have landed.’ We are here in support of the local authorities, completely subordinate to their orders and the missions they assign us."