Deployed weather forecasters help ensure Global War on Terror flight missions are a 'go'

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Celena Wilson
  • 379th Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
How hard is it to tell what the weather is in the desert in the middle of the summer? You can just go outside and say 'Yup. It's hot.'
But the members of the 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight will tell you different - it takes teamwork, communication and lots of equipment to get that weather forecast.
The weather information the flight provides enables weapons to be delivered at a particular place, at a specific time by shaping the aircrew's awareness of any and all adverse weather conditions and enhancing their ability to overcome and exploit these conditions.
From mission planning to execution to recovery, weather conditions dictate the manner in which the mission is accomplished.
"What we bring to the fight is the information of what the atmosphere is doing and what it is going to do, and more importantly, how that will impact the mission to be accomplished," said Capt. J.R. Hanamean, Weather Flight commander.
"Weather is critical to mission success, especially concerning flying operations," said Staff Sgt. Scott Capodice, deployed from Langley AFB, Va. "We brief all flights out of here which are in direct and indirect support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and are out there doing a number of different missions. 
"Whether it be a fighter, tanker, bomber or cargo aircraft, we brief them all and having the timely and accurate weather is critical to their mission accomplishment," Sergeant Capodice said.
"It may be hot here and doesn't change much, but other factors such as fog, humidity, dust and wind speeds can change very quickly and we have to do everything to keep the pilots safe and the base populace informed," said Tech. Sgt. Ceaser Webb, deployed from Eglin AFB, Fla.

One of the forecasters' jobs is to compile all of the current weather conditions gathered by their weather equipment, such as the tactical meteorological observing system, or T-MOS, and the Mark IVB, a satellite display and analysis system.
The forecasters then forecast what the weather is doing or going to do within the AOR for flights scheduled for that day. This is one of the most important jobs these six forecasters have.
"Without us no aircraft can get off the ground," said Tech. Sgt. Tina Stott, deployed from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. "Without our weather forecasts, these pilots would be out there flying blind and would never know what was really out there. We try to keep them clear of the various weather hazards, especially the sand storms."
The flight hit the ground running and hasn't missed a step in this high ops-tempo shop.
Considering most of the individuals have not deployed before and are not familiar with combat operations or Southwest Asian weather, having more experienced personnel on each shift gives us an advantage over having an unbalanced or inexperienced flight," said Master Sgt. Kimberly Lester, Weather Flight noncommissioned officer in charge.
"With a more balanced rank structure, the likelihood that some of the more senior members have worked with tactical equipment, have knowledge on how weather impacts this area and have supervisory experience has been very valuable to our ops considering we only get one to two days of training before we are certified to work on our own. In normal weather stations, the training timeline is at least four to six weeks," Sergeant Lester said.
"The folks here are eager to learn and didn't arrive with any preconceived ideas about operations and/or support," she said. "We have a great balance of forecasters in our office who get the job done," she concluded.