Perhaps We Need a Bake Sale For Helicopters!


Living in San Diego, and having been evacuated twice before (but not this time), it is time for a “hot wash-up.” And boy, am I hot!
Do you honestly think that 22 Marine helicopters are all we can muster out of North Island, Miramar, and Camp Pendleton – of which only 11 were used for civilian fires over three days? (Eleven different helos fought the fires on Camp Pendleton.)
Really? I saw no Navy helicopters. What? The Navy doesn’t fly helicopters any longer?
There are enough military assets in the Southwest that they could have been used to blot out the sun, and smother the fires with backwash alone!
The problem is government bureaucracy – local, state and federal – including a rule that local, state, and civilian assets must be deployed to the max before the military can be used – as if the fire will camp out and let politicians get their ducks in a row, then resume when the administrators  are ready!
Yes, it is better than in 2003 when Navy helos idled on the runways while CalFire said the pilots – mostly Vietnam pilots who could fly those things through a County Administration Building window without breaking glass, were deemed “unqualified!”
When disaster strikes, could we put a CalFire observer in an AWACS for coordination – each AWACS can air control about 130,000 square miles (three can cover all of Central Europe) – and fight these things without the territorial imperative?
Politicians never think of “All Hands on Deck!”  To politicians it’s always, Rule 713.2.1 of the manual, which reads…
 Navy and Marine pilots are sworn to protect the citizenry, and they are certainly capable of that, but 11 helos? Really?
In WWII, we had bombing raids over Germany with 5,000 bombers at a time – all while fighting another war against the Japanese – and all we can muster in a raging conflagration in San Diego is 11 helos?
We simply do not use existing assets – if the call went out generally, we could have THOUSANDS of highly trained, disciplined and athletic volunteers – not to fight the fires, but to act as shovel brigades to shovel the hot spots – freeing up the better-trained firefighters for the front lines.
We have portable kitchens, portable hospitals – the sort of things we use in distant lands when emergencies strike – could we just use the same priorities for disasters here at home?
Somehow, we manage to send a grunch (technical term) of assistance to every two-bit nation in the world, when disaster strikes, and we can only muster 11 helos with buckets for San Diego out of the entire Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines assets – nationwide?
I’ll just bet that if President Obama casually said, “I want every aircraft in our inventory capable of dropping water to fly to San Diego immediately!” his Chief of Staff would say, “Mr. President, we will have to sign a quick treaty with Mexico to use the Tijuana Airport because we will run out of all military and civilian runway, taxiway, hangar and storage space in about an hour, and need to fly hot flights from Pt. Magu and Arizona!”
Eleven helos, indeed. Perhaps we need a Bake Sale…

One Response

  1. You are correct sir. The entire bureaucracy is out of control, flipped upside down and turned inside out. Hope you are safe out there.

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