Navy, Air Force weather in Europe combine operations

  • Published
  • By Staff Report
  • HQ U.S. Air Forces in Europe Weather Division
The Air Force and Navy military weather communities in Europe are coming together.

They are embarking on a new concept, providing full spectrum support to warfighters throughout the European Command.

Four Naval Meteorology and Oceanography offices will see this change. The Naval Activities Rota, in Spain; Naples, Italy; Sigonella, Sicily; and Souda Bay, Crete are closing their doors. They are transferring their functions to the Naval Aviation Forecast Detachment and the 21st Operational Weather Squadron, Sembach, Germany.

In order to realize Chief of Naval Operations' recapitalization and realignment efforts, the Navy METOC footprint in the European theater will be streamlined from 239 personnel to 37 by Fiscal Year 2008. This will co-locate Navy and Air Force European weather at one location, the 21st OWS, allowing both services to align weather support and maximize the use of Department of Defense resources throughout the theater. As a result, all Naval European aviation weather and resource protection requirements are being transferred from the local Navy detachments to the 21st OWS by October of this year.

The Navy detachment at Sembach AB will receive 14 personnel in order to execute this transition. First to arrive was Lieutenant Shawn Gallaher, Navy, who came to Sembach AB from the recently disestablished Naval European Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Rota, Spain. Shortly afterward, all NAVEUR Web products were migrated from the Mediterranean detachments to the 21st OWS Web page. In May, following the arrival of a senior NCO and 2 forecasters, Navy flight weather briefing support for the entire NAVEUR theater transitioned to Sembach AB. Previously, the briefings were provided by Navy forecasters located at the airfields in Rota, Naples, Sigonella and Souda Bay. The transition will complete in October with the Air Force and Navy team at the 21st OWS providing 24 hour resource protection and Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts for all four Navy sites remotely from Sembach AB.

Operationally, the Navy detachment has integrated into the Squadron mission through close synchronization with the 21st OWS leaders. Coordination between both operations directors has given the squadron a better joint service perspective. This ensures relevant products for EUCOM customers, particularly products originating from the 21st OWS Contingency Cell are available.

Additionally, at the flight weather briefing desk, Navy and Air Force forecasters have completely integrated and have been operating jointly since June. Either a Navy or an Air Force forecaster independent of the service specific platform making the request may support EUCOM pilots needing flight weather briefings. The 21st OWS will use the Product Generation Server/Scheduler along with the naval flight weather briefer program to manage all EUCOM flight weather requirements.

While some functions are integrated, others have to remain separate based on the particular service's unique needs.

A Navy personnel specialist handles navy specific administrative needs. However, by combining the Air Force and Navy organizations, the efficiencies in the areas such as security management, systems integration, building utilization, administrative infrastructure and command sustainment, costs and programs have improved significantly.

Combining the Air Force and Navy weather services in Europe at the 21st OWS has been a tremendous success. Over time, the benefits of this merger will continue to flourish as more and more Air Force and Navy forecasters work together side by side. Not only does this arrangement foster a healthy cross service relationship, but also the efficiencies gain by this merged organization allows Department of Defense to reallocate resources to higher priority missions. As the successes of this union manifest, the value of expanding this model to other theaters may be realized and executed, making military weather a true joint organization.

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