Airman contributes to fight in eastern Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Spc. B. Todd Willis
  • Combined JTF 82 PA
"Air power!" says one service member. "Army strong!" says another. "You would not even make it to the battlefield without the Air Force," someone exclaims. "The Army puts boots on the ground, you can't fight a war without boots on the ground," someone else shouts.

This sort of heated but friendly exchange happens all the time at the Combined Joint Task Force-82's joint operations command center. U.S. Army servicemembers make up the majority of personnel here, but this is a combined effort as the U.S. Air Force, sister services and foreign militaries make a significant positive impact in many areas of operation here.

Over the years, the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines have become more specialized, and are now dependent on each other for certain tasks.

For example, the Air Force handles virtually all weather analysis and forecasting duties.

Senior Airman Jarod Bjork, 26, is one of those Air Force service members with a unique skill set.

Bjork, a three-and-a-half-year Air Force veteran, prepares coalition war-fighters for hazardous conditions, such as thunderstorms or heavy snow, by forecasting the weather.

"I work directly with operations planners in eastern Afghanistan and provide the planners with the information they need," said Bjork.

The Orlando Fla. native has been married for four years. His wife, Lina, is also in the Air Force. They are currently stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

"Back at my home station, I forecasted weather patterns for our flight planners," said Bjork.

Airmen Bjork has some big shoes to be fill, both of his parents served in the Air Force.

"My father was a security policeman, retiring with more than 20 years of service, and my mother served for few years in an administrative capacity," said Bjork. "I was never under pressure from my family to follow in their foot-steps. I joined the Air Force because I knew it would be a good career path."

Before being assigned his current mission in Afghanistan, he had to attend several months of "hard-core" Army training at Fort Polk, La.

"We went into the field and trained in a realistic war-game scenario," said Bjork.

Lastly, Bjork had to travel to Camp Attebury, Ind., for heavy combat simulation training.

"I learned and practiced advanced techniques using the M-9, M-16 and other automatic weapons at the combat-skills training facility," said Bjork.

The purpose of the training was to prepare Airmen, such as Bjork, for combat situations. This kind of training and experience working with the Army is something relatively new to many Airmen.

"This is a different mission compared to what I am used to. Most of the weather forecasting I did back in the states served to protect our equipment and ground assets," said Bjork.

"Here, I get to work directly with the operators/aviators. I get to see how every component of the mission contributes to the whole."

Air Force leadership has seen first-hand the impact a good Airman can make.

"Airman Bjork makes a real contribution every day to our vital mission," said U.S Air Force Maj. Jody Zolman, director, 19th Expeditionary Weather Squadron.

Like many service members, Bjork accepts the challenges of going to war and keeps a positive outlook.

"Working with the Army is definitely the highlight of my career, so far," said Bjork, "I have had the opportunity to meet many great people here."