Weather forecasters provide support in Kosovo

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Carla Williams
  • Kosovo Force Press Service
When some people want to start a conversation with a stranger or someone they have not seen for a while, they may ask the long-standing question, "What do you think of the weather?"

As weather forecasters, a small group of Airmen deployed to Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo take the question one step further: "How will the weather affect operations?"

The forecasters, who are deployed from California and Kentucky Air National Guard units, provide weather support as "force multipliers" to allow the brigade to accomplish its missions safely, effectively and in a timely manner. They support a brigade consisting of American, Polish, Ukrainian and Greek forces, and to other Kosovo Forces units that conduct joint operations.

"Exploiting the weather for missions is our business," said Staff Sgt. Patricia Ballou, a forecaster from the California ANG's 195th Weather Flight. "If it were using low-level obscurations to hide servicemembers' movements or (a clear sky) for air reconnaissance missions, we are considered part of the intelligence community, and most commanders agree that weather will make or break an operation.

"There is only so much environmental influence a warfighter can take before the elements, which cannot be controlled by man, start to affect the overall success of the mission and the safe return of our most valuable asset -- the warfighter," she said.

Capt. Roderick Coronel, who is a 21-year veteran, said the weather forecaster's job is dedicated to the KFOR mission.

"As Army support, our job (as forecasters) requires us to cohabitate with the Army," said the captain, who is deployed from the California ANG's 210th WF. "As a result, we learn how to live and speak 'Army.' We don't necessarily turn into Soldiers, but we almost nearly do. Only a few Air Force specialties have this opportunity.

"It is a rewarding experience once the Army has accepted you into their group," he said. "They are extremely appreciative of how we can contribute to their mission once they understand what we can provide them."