First Iraqi weather officer's graduate

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jarrod Chavana
  • Multi-National Force - Iraq PA
The first class of Iraqi air force meteorology officers graduated, March 25, from a formal technical training course in Baghdad taught by U.S. Air Force weather forecasters.

The Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force have Airmen assigned to teach Iraqi personnel how to create a self sufficient and sustaining military. One such class is the weather forecaster's course, taught by Airmen from the 321st Air Expeditionary Advisory Group Air Operations Center Military Training Team. During this 52-day course, the eight Iraqi military students were instructed on everything from basic weather observations to advanced weather forecast models.

"We have advised and helped the Iraq air force develop a system that is similar to the United States National Weather Service, United Kingdom's Meteorology Organization and most of the members of the World Meteorology Organization," said Maj. Barry Hunte, 321st Military Training Team weather advisor, deployed from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.

"Meteorology is an important part of flight safety and resource protection," he said. "A significant part of airports ratings are dependent upon the meteorology observation and forecasting services they offer."

However, despite having degrees such as meteorology or physics, the officers have never received any type of formal aviation or military weather forecasting training. During this class the Iraqi officers received technical classroom knowledge and hands-on weather training.

"We taught them how to use equipment such as the Tactical Meteorological Observation System," said Master Sgt. Mario Viray, 321st Military Training Team weather advisor. "The TMQ-53 derives and displays the temperature, dew point, visibility and precipitation type, and it even sends a beam upward of 10,000 feet to detect how high the clouds are. We taught them weather observing and forecasting to WMO standards. We then helped them tailor their weather documents to fit their own unique aviation missions and base assets."

From the information taught this inaugural class of Iraqi weather officers are now able to produce 30 minute observations, terminal airdrome forecasts, daily weather briefings and issue safety-related weather watches, warnings and advisories.

"The officers will gain valuable experience everyday and in the future they will use what we've taught them to train both Iraqi officers and enlisted personnel," said Sergeant Viray, who is deployed from Nellis AFB, Nev. "They will build their weather squadrons just like we did in the 1940s."

"This is a dream come true for me," said Col. Salman Kherbat, Iraqi meteorology section director. "The American instructors have given us all their knowledge and helped us grow as an independent meteorology section. I'm very proud of these eight officers as they have sacrificed many things to complete this course."

The graduates will now be sent to different locations throughout Iraq for continued on-the-job training. Once the training is complete, some of the new weather officers will become instructors while others will begin their weather mission for the Iraqi military.