Combat weather Airmen test out new initiative
By Senior Amn. Frances Locquiao, 23rd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 29, 2009
Combat weather Airmen from the 93rd Air Ground and Operations Wing, as well as units from all over the world, are currently in a training exercise here to test a new total-force initiative -- The TFI proposes the need to consolidate training locations and resources for combat weather Airmen. The 30-day "Cyclogenesis" exercise will put the initiative to work by using the resources available at the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center and instructors from the Florida National Guard to showcase a proposed training plan.
"Our plan will standardize combat and weather skills training, which did not exist before," said Master Sgt. James Heinrich, 93rd AGOW and head organizer for the exercise. "This exercise will show that training needed for combat weather Airmen can be accomplished at one venue. We have everything we need at Camp Blanding including the Weather Readiness Training Center."
Currently, training is done at several locations including Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Camp Atterbury, Ind., and Ft. Lewis, Wash.
"Some classes have limited space and are offered at certain times of the year, making it difficult for some squadrons to send their Airmen to the different locations for training," said Tech. Sgt. Joel Decker, 93rd AGOW NCO in-charge of training and organizer for the exercise. "The plan is to have everyone complete the proposed training before they even arrive to their duty assignments so they are prepared for the job and ready to deploy."1
U.S. Army National Guard instructors from the Regional Training Institute will provide instruction for the combat skills.
So far, students have learned combat lifesaver skills, combatives and how to operate the M240B, M249 and M2 Caliber .50 machine guns.
The rest of combat skills training will include land navigation, night vehicle operations, voice communications, which will eventually encompass the Army's 32 Warrior Tasks and 12 Battle Drills.
"The warrior tasks and battle drills are the basics Army infantry soldiers need to know for their job," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Edward Stokes, 211th Regiment, Regional Training Institute infantry instructor. "These Airmen are likely to deploy with Army soldiers and they need to know how to operate different gun systems and react to possible ambush. This training will help them immensely during their deployments."
Most of the Airmen who are participating in the exercise are part of the 3rd Weather Squadron at Fort Hood, Texas, and 18th Weather Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., which are both units under the 93rd AGOW.
Combat weathermen gather and interpret weather data and provide intelligence from deployed locations while serving as members of Air Force Special Tactics teams with U.S. Army Special Operations Forces.
"Since we are embedded with the Army, it's important to hone combat skills and not be a burden to them," said Senior Airman Jacob Callahan, 18th Weather Squadron, Detachment 1, battlefield weather forecaster assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y. "The training has been good and the Army instructors have been very knowledgeable and experienced. I think this training is very beneficial for our career field."
Once the exercise ends, students will critique the training plan and instructors resulting in a final plan that will be created and used for future classes.
"This event is just a test run of a larger effort and we teamed up with the Army instructors to provide the best training concept," said Sergeant Heinrich. "We will evaluate the exercise, work out kinks and create a polished, lengthened training class. Overall, it will better prepare Airmen for deployed conditions as well as save time and money for the Air Force."