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The Secret War Over Pentagon Aid in Fighting Wildfires

Added 09-27-21 11:40:03am EST - “The military's satellites excel at spotting new blazes, but for decades they have been mostly off limits to civilian firefighters.” - Nytimes.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Nytimes.com: “The Secret War Over Pentagon Aid in Fighting Wildfires”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

The military’s satellites excel at spotting new blazes, but for decades they have been mostly off limits to civilian firefighters.

In July, as wildfires tore through the American West, President Biden met with the region’s governors to find better ways to battle the flames. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California requested use of military satellites that are designed to warn of missile attacks, calling the orbital fleet “a game changer” for spotting and fighting wildfires.

Mr. Biden promised to help. “When this meeting is over,” he said, “I’ll be on the phone with the Department of Defense.”

The issue of using secret military gear to aid civilian firefighters arose 35 years ago. It grew as the White House, the Central Intelligence Authority, the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies sought to establish a national system that warned of undetected wildfires and menacing flare-ups.

The Pentagon allowed tests and a short-lived prototype. But the arrangements were never permanent. The military, eager to safeguard its prerogatives and orbital fleets, was always glad to shut the pipeline down. As a result, officials like Governor Newsom now have to lobby for emergency access.

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