CAMP ROBERTS, Calif. - Training is nothing new for California National Guard troops at Camp Roberts, but their mission this week is to prepare for the state's already busy and devastating wildfire season.
The Camp, located on both sides of the Salinas River in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties, is the California National Guard post in Central California.
The National Guard has mobilized more than 260 soldiers to train as ground firefighting hand crews as a potential complement to the 18 helicopters, two planes and air crews the guard has activated to fight fires across Northern California.
The soldiers arrived Monday for four days of intensive instruction led by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The troops received two days of classroom instruction followed by two days of work in the field using hand tools.
These hand crews will work to create fire breaks, which are gaps in vegetation that act as a barrier to slow or stop the progress of a fire and to mop up hot spots and small blazes that remain after a large fire has passed through an area.
The troops face the possibility of working during the worst months of California's fire season still ahead.