Weather-savvy Airmen assist with operational success

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Andrew Gates
  • 407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affiars
In a combat environment, knowing what the weather will be can be crucial to operational success. A team of Airmen here is dedicated to doing just that.

"We provide accurate, mission-specific weather information and products to Ali Base warfighters and coalition forces," said Master Sgt. Milton Threet, 407th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron chief of weather station operations.

To do that, the four-person shop monitors local and theater weather conditions around-the-clock. They stay familiar with what's going on not only at Ali Base, but also at destinations of the aircraft leaving here.

"People at Ali need to know the weather at all times, since knowing that can enhance the mission of everyone, especially those involved with flying operations," Sergeant Threet said. "If weather dictates that a mission is delayed or scrubbed, the mission is degraded."

"If I can tell a pilot there is a weather situation that may be hazardous to his flight, and he takes the proper precautions, that helps the mission," said Staff Sgt. Aaron Wood, deployed from the 46th Weather Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Forecasting the weather in advance -- up to at least five days -- helps commanders plan missions, Sergeant Threet said. Besides forecasting, the station also passes severe weather warnings to the command post to allow people to protect themselves. During the upcoming summer at Ali Base, bad weather will usually be strong winds and dust storms.

The mission at Ali is somewhat different from that at the Airmen's home stations. For instance, Sergeant Wood forecasts high temperatures and blowing dust instead of thunderstorms and hurricanes.

"The scope and area of our responsibility is much different," said Tech. Sgt. Jared Ey, a forecaster deployed here from the 17th Operational Weather Squadron at Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

"At the 17th OWS, we produce weather charts and products for nearly half the world," Sergeant Ey said. "Here at Ali, we use the charts and products created at those weather squadrons and tailor them to the warfighters here."

To accomplish the mission, the team relies strongly upon the Tactical Meteorological Observing Set , or TMOS. The "all-in-one" piece of equipment measures the wind, temperature, dew point, precipitation, atmospheric pressure, visibility and sky conditions, Sergeant Threet said.

"The TMOS has some inherent limitations, so our forecasters verify and correct, as needed, the visibility and sky condition before issuing their hourly official observation," he said.

rotation. They also access satellite imagery and other products through the Internet, using the Joint Air Force and Army Weather Information Network.

For the four-person forecasting team, adjusting to the weather environment can be somewhat of a challenge.

"In many respects, it is an easier type of forecasting because the weather can remain unchanging for weeks at a time," Sergeant Threet said. "The challenge for us will be to remain alert to the potential for strong winds that generate dust storms where visibility may go to nearly nothing."

The team is excited about supporting the Ali Base mission as well as the burgeoning Iraqi democracy.

"The change to democracy has been long overdue," Sergeant Wood said. "I feel good about being here."

Sergeant Ey agreed. "It is amazing to be a part of something so historic," he said.

"While my name will not likely be singled out in a history book, I can look at this as an opportunity few in the world can do. I am playing a part of world history."

Whether or not history will remember them, the team enjoys the various aspects of the job.

"The best part of this job is the interaction with other people," Sergeant Ey said.

Sergeant Wood finds he likes a bigger challenge. "I like doing the five-day forecast and seeing how close I really came on the fourth and fifth days," he said.

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