Twelfth Air Force commander visits weather wing

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Nebraska --

The 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander received an immersion tour of the 557th Weather Wing, one of seven active-duty wings within the numbered command, during a visit here Feb. 22.

During his first visit to the 557th WW, Lt. Gen. Mark D. Kelly, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) commander, was able to get an in-depth look at the Air Force’s only weather wing, whose mission is to provide centralized weather products and services, including climatological and space weather support, to Air Force, Army, Joint Force and other Department of Defense activities.

The day began with an enlisted breakfast where Kelly had a chance to meet and greet Airmen in an informal setting, field questions and expand on broad macro-level defense topics.

“The Air Force is leading the fight right now – Iraq, Mosul, Afghanistan, Yemen and Libya – everyone wants more of us and more of our Airmen and what we can do,” Kelly said. “Even though we are in a coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan…we always lead the way because no one else can remotely do what we do.”

One of the major themes of the hour-long breakfast was the relationship between leadership and followership, and the benefits of funneling information to better shape decisions and policy - a hierarchal conversation Kelly referred to as ‘reasoned dissent.’

“The breakfast shared with the general was eye opening,” said Airman Joseph Hoover, a Network Infrastructure Technician with the 2d Systems Operations Squadron.  “I believe this experience will help in my development as an Airman."

Following the meeting with enlisted Airmen, Kelly was greeted by 557th WW leadership in the atrium of their headquarters building.

Kelly remained at the headquarters for the remainder of his tour, visiting with Airmen and civilian professionals representing an assortment of squadrons and their corresponding weather missions.

One of the main stops on the tour was the 2d Weather Squadron’s Space Weather Operations Center. Here Kelly had a chance to see the DOD’s sole source of volcanic-ash advisory and forecasts, as well the equipment needed to monitor space weather and solar flares. The mission carried out by the 2d WS is a 24/7 mission providing seamless assessment to DoD decision makers.

During a working lunch with all of the 557th WW leadership team, including geographically separated units around world, individuals had the chance to speak with the commander and share some concerns.

Kelly said he saw the weather as a crucial growth industry within the Air Force, stating it had enduring relevance.

“The military is truly an all-weather force,” Kelly said. “The trends of combat, the trends of warfare, indicate that the weather enterprise isn’t going anywhere but up.”

Kelly ended his tour visiting with the weather professionals of the 16th Weather Squadron, where he presented a commander’s coin to an Airman who illustrated exemplary service.