93 AGOW activates first-ever Combat Weather Group in DoD history

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Katie Tamesis
  • 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing

The 93d Air Ground Operations Wing (AGOW) activated the 5th Combat Weather Group (CWG) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, May 5, 2022. This is the first Combat Weather group to ever be established in the DoD.


Weather has critical impacts on military operations and has determined the outcome of many conflicts over the centuries. In our own nation, meteorological predictions have influenced decisions from General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River in the Revolutionary War to General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s decision to delay “Operation Overlord,” the D-Day operation in World War II, by one day to ensure success. U.S Air Force Combat Weather’s foundations can be traced back to the 1st Army Air Force Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and the many weather detachments that established weather’s role in mission readiness and success. The separation of Combat Weather from traditional Air Force weather was made in September 2020, in order to concentrate efforts towards supporting combat operations.


“Success in every conflict requires an understanding of the environment and the ability to filter that understanding through the lens of combat,” said Col. Danielle Willis, 93d AGOW commander. “The combat experience and relationship with the Army critical, and the warrior spirit is what makes Combat Weather so valuable and so successful. To quote Senior Master Sgt. Scott Weber, author of the Enlisted Weather Warriors, ‘with M-16 rifles in one hand and tactical weather equipment in the other, forecasters and observers stormed into battle with their sister service.’ Our Combat Weather Airmen, our staff weather officers are always in the fight—ready to go anytime and anywhere.”


The distinguishing factor between the Combat Weather mission and the traditional Air Force weather mission is the direct support that it supplies to the U.S. Army. The Staff Weather Officers (SWO’s) that are assigned to the 93d AGOW are attached to Army maneuver echelons to predict and provide meteorological intelligence that tremendously affects the battlefield; whether it be on the ground, in the air, or in space.


“Combat Weather provides full spectrum environmental intelligence and aviation weather support to Army organizations at every echelon,” said Lt. Col. David Mack, 18th Combat Weather Squadron commander. “Traditional AF weather organizations provide similar but do so to Air Force organizations such as flying squadrons, wings and the intelligence community; also, unlike former Special Operations Weather Technicians (SOWT), now Special Reconnaissance, who were aligned to and provided support to Army Special Operations Forces.”


The specialized mission of Combat Weather aligns with joint force priorities to drive proactive schemes of maneuver. SWO’s are at the forefront of the integrated deterrence continuum by directly increasing survivability while generating combat power.


“Combat Weather provides several services to the United States Army at nearly all echelons of command: decision support to the maneuver commander, weather support to Army aviation units, airfield support, garrison support, and asset protection,” Willis said. “At its heart, the Combat Weather mission is about ensuring that battlefield commanders understand—in real time—the impact that the weather and the environment have on combat operations. This requires our weather Airmen to embed with the units they support, to understand their missions inside and out, and to build trusting relationships with ground commanders.”


Having leaders that not only understand this unique mission, but do the mission themselves, is essential to effective advocacy and action for all Combat Weather Airmen. The new group opens the space for Combat Weather representation at the advanced leadership level within the 93 AGOW and for the entire Combat Weather community across the globe.


“The 5th Combat Weather Group is significant for the entire CWS community because Combat Weather represents one-third of our wing’s mission, but does not have O-6 (Colonel) representation at the wing-level,” said Lt. Col. Danele Richardson, 3d Combat Weather Squadron commander. “The activation enables a new leadership team to create enduring processes and functions (that) can be replicated across the entire Combat Weather Squadron community to ensure our Airmen have the best environment to thrive, in order to bring environmental science intelligence to the Army.” The activation ceremony will be followed by an assumption of command ceremony in the coming months where the incoming group commander will gain command of the 5th CWG.


“The future of Combat Weather under the group looks bright and quite busy,” Mack said. “The group will assume all operational and administrative actions for both the 3d and 18th CWS and appropriately task, organize, Combat Weather functions under its command. While the 5th CWG is part of the 93d AGOW it will serve as a unifying voice for all of the Combat Weather community.”