OWS Airmen get taste of combat environment

  • Published
  • By Bekah Clark
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 15th Operational Weather Squadron here practiced their operational and combat skills April 12-18 at Scott's exercise grounds during Tempest Warrior, their semiannual field training exercise.

The exercise was comprised of two, three-day rotations, with about 60 trainees and 12 trainers each, with a daylong break in between. The first day of each rotation was made up entirely of hands-on training including Self Aid and Buddy Care, basic land navigation, tactical observing, personnel and vehicle searches, basic tactical maneuvers, and base defense.

"It was a recap of everything that we should know from our entire experience thus far, from basic training to now," said Airman 1st Class Sara Knight, a weather forecaster with the 15th OWS B Flight who participated in the second rotation of the exercise. "It was everything we need to know for when it's our turn to deploy."

The following two days were filled with simulated wartime scenarios where the Airmen had to safely and smartly perform their usual weather mission in a hostile environment, giving them the chance to employ their new combat tactics.

Collecting weather observations for aircrews before an air drop in hostile territory, briefing aircrews on weather conditions, base attacks, and protests by foreign nationals, were all scenarios presented to the Airmen.

As the Air Force and Army's sole provider of weather information, weather Airmen are deployed early and often, making it absolutely essential that they learn early in their careers how to perform their mission in a combat environment.

"It helps you prepare for the deployed environment, as opposed to the office setting that we're in every day," said Senior Airman Cassandra Guzman, a weather forecaster with the 15th OWS C Flight who participated in the first rotation of the exercise. "It's good to go out and shoot and hold weapons, do patrols and man a station."

In addition to providing combat training for the Airmen, the exercise also emphasized the importance of teamwork and leadership, said Airman Guzman, who learned the importance of believing in and relying on your wingmen.

"You're never doing everything by yourself, so it's important to learn how to work with and rely on other people," she said. "It's important to support your leaders. They have the final say in what goes on, you have to believe in them and go with what they say."

The teams learned the value of clear communication.

"The greatest lesson for me was to see the growth of teamwork and communication between the Senior NCOs and Company Grade Officers throughout the exercise," said 2nd Lt. Jeremy Anthony, 15th OWS B Flight Element 2 leader and exercise co-coordinator. "By being thrown into unfamiliar scenarios, they were forced to learn very quickly that communication is key."

Special operations weather forecasters from Hurlburt Field, Fla., and combat weather flight forecasters from Ft. Campbell, Ky., came to Scott as trainers for the exercise.
On top of its daily forecasting mission, the 15th OWS trains 20 percent of all new Air Force enlisted forecasters and weather officers. It is the first stop for weather apprentices, after completing their eight-month initial training, to complete a 15-month upgrade training.

In addition to forecasting watches, warnings and advisories, weather Airmen are charged with the responsibility of providing accurate and timely take-off, en route, and landing destination weather to aircrews.

The 15th OWS is responsible for producing and disseminating mission planning and execution weather analyses, forecasts, and briefings for Air Force, Army, Guard, Reserve, and combatant command forces operating at 138 locations in a 24-state region of the northeastern United States. The 15th OWS also produces more than 9,000 weather warnings and advisories, 18,000 terminal aerodrome forecasts, 12,000 graphical aviation hazard products, and 30,000 flight weather briefings per year.