FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — The 10th Mountain Division and U.S. Coast Guard have solidified a partnership for search-and-rescue missions in the North Country.

This was made official on March 16 as 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Commander Major General Milford H. Beagle Jr. amd U.S. Coast Guard Ninth Division Commander Rear Admiral Michael johnston met on Fort Drum to sign a memorandum of understanding.

The memorandum formalized the procedures and guidelines that will allow the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade to provide overwater air support during search-and-rescue operations.

10th CAB will provide support specifically to the two Coast Guard stations within Fort Drum’s area of operation: Station Alexandria Bay and Station Oswego.

These stations are responsible for providing search-and-rescue support to mayday calls, missing divers and swimmers, capsized vessels and stranded individuals along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.

Although both Coast Guard stations have search-and-rescue capabilities, the closest Coast Guard air asset is located 324 nautical miles away at USCG Station Detriot.

Commanding General Beagle said that “every minute matters in a search-and-rescue operation,” and that 10th CAB has the personnel and equiptment well-suited to assist.

“It’s great when our community can see what we do as services together, and through that partnership, what we can do for our community,” Beagle said. “It’s great that we can provide a service to the community that has never really been there before, in terms of how we can leverage our capabilities between the two of us.”

According to Admiral Johnstand, the idea for the partnership originated when an engineer officer and an aviator discussed the idea of joint rescue operations.

“They just started talking,” Johnston said. “Started talking about what we could do together. Then it started rising up the chain (of command), and as soon as I heard about it, I thought ‘That sounds great.’”

Fort Drum Public Affairs confirmed that aviators of 10th CAB’s C Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion will use infrared systems in HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to assist.

In a previous report, CAB Commander Colonel Travis. L. McIntosh shared his excitement regarding the partnership.

“Fort Drum’s location provides the potential for timelier rescue efforts and enhances the training and readiness of both organizations,” Colonel McIntosh said. “We are excited to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Ninth District to be able to support the North Country that has supported us so well over the years.”