Weather technician trains observers at Afghan outpost

  • Published
  • By Capt. Joe Campbell
  • Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team
A battlefield weather Airman assigned to work with Army aviation units recently spent two days training members of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team to report weather observations.

Senior Airman Nathan Fried of the 20th Expeditionary Air Support and Operations Squadron at Bagram Air Base trained Panjshir PRT members to determine the temperature, dew point, barometric pressure, wind speed, cloud cover, road conditions and present weather in the province.

"Traveling to remote locations to conduct training helps me gain a better perspective in terms of the terrain and to see for myself what the observers see," said Airman Fried, deployed from Fort Drum, N.Y.

With limited data across the entire area of responsibility, these daily reports are useful for people traveling to those regions, he said.

"We'll make three observations a day, every day, using a handheld device that measures temperature, dew point, pressure and wind speed," said Tech. Sgt. John Cumper, a Panjshir PRT member and vehicle mechanic deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The observers e-mail the data to Airman Fried or another staff weather officer at Bagram AB, who then completes a Forward Area Limited Observation Program form and releases the information to be used by aviators and mission planners.

"The observations in Panjshir will be provided three times a day instead of hourly, so the information provided is very limited but it's typically enough to tell us what it's like up there," Airman Fried said.

The observations are useful for both ground convoy and aviation assets. Wind conditions, visibility and cloud cover are parameters that pilots need to know before a mission and road conditions, present weather and temperature are useful for convoys, he said.

"The Panjshir PRT conducts numerous missions in remote areas during inclement weather, as well as hosting visitors who arrive by helicopter," said Lt. Col. Neal Kringel, Panjshir PRT commander. "Having our own weather station enhances our ability to get accurate forecasts and make sound decisions on operational missions."