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Soldiers training as wildland firefighters in Oregon learn from all-veteran crew

Zane Willert, a firefighter with the Devil's Canyon Handcrew, supervises tactical training with the Soldiers assigned to 23rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Umpqua North Complex, Oregon, Sept. 8. When not fighting the flames during wildfire season, Willert is a cattle rancher in Wyoming. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Adeline Witherspoon, 20th Public Affairs Detachment)

ROSEBURG, Ore. - The 200 active duty U.S. Army soldiers called up to fight wildfires arrived at the Umpqua North Complex last week.

They received additional training - and wisdom - on site from the Devil's Canyon Hand Crew.

The Bureau of Land Management team based out of Wyoming is made up entirely of U.S. military veterans.

The Devil's Canyon firefighters worked with the 7th Infantry Division troops based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

This is the first activation of active duty military to fight fires since 2015 and only the 2nd since 2006. Oregon has also called up National Guard troops to help fight fires.

The troops from Lewis-McChord are training to clear brush from roads; improve fire lines; and eventually do mop-up work once the fires are contained.

Maj. Gen. Willard Burleson, the 7th Infantry commanding general, said in a statement that he is confident his troops “will do a great job.”

“Task Force Bayonet Soldiers are always ready to support our nation when called upon, regardless of the mission and the environment,” said Burleson.

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