Weather specialists collaborate with Cyber Transport for field weather forecast
By Tech. Sgt. William Buchanan, 125th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 07, 2014
Florida Air National Guardsmen joined forces to forecast field weather conditions during a field training exercise Oct. 2-5 at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in Starke, Fla. -- Guardsmen from geographically separated units (GSUs) typically don't train together. Miles of separation, plus scheduling conflicts and differing missions make it challenging to train together. However, mission and training requirements occasionally synchronize and afford Airmen the chance to synergize and complete their separate missions together.
"Being out here in the field gets us away from our comfort zone," said 1st Lt. Matt Tanner, staff weather officer of bravo team at the 159th Weather Flight. "We have to learn to adapt, because in real life, when we're in the battle field in war, that's going to happen."
This FTX was originally planned by the 159th Weather Flight, who were preparing for an upcoming deployment in 2015. This type of training is typical for the weather flight, only this time they added the challenge of simulated deployment, which means simulated field conditions.
The conditions for this exercise were to send two separate weather units to sites separated by 20 miles. This also meant the units had to establish a base of operations with shelter, electricity to power their equipment and the communications to transmit hourly weather forecasts. These conditions provided the perfect opportunity for these Airmen to collaborate with the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron from Tampa, Florida.
"It makes us problem-solve, troubleshoot, but also grow together as a team to work together," Tanner said.
Cyber Transport Specialists from the 290th JCSS traveled to the simulated deployed location, bringing tents for shelter, generators for power and satellite equipment for both secure and non-secure communications. This provided the weather forecasters with everything they needed to complete their mission. In addition, this exercise provided an atypical training opportunity for Cyber Transport Specialists.
Typically during training, Airmen in the communications squadron inventory, assemble and troubleshoot communications equipment from the comfort of their squadron building. That means there is no excitement from the customer when communications go up, and no pressure when communications go down. By working with the weather flight during an active FTX, these Guardsmen were tested as if working in real-world conditions.
"If the satellite goes down, we can see how it affects them or hurts them," said Airman 1st Class Caroline Alper, a Cyber Transport apprentice. "If anything, it gives us a sense of urgency."
Airmen from the 290th JCSS are also scheduled to deploy in 2015, and this type of real-world collaborative training provided opportunities working at their home unit simply couldn't afford, such as a demanding client with real-time needs.
Not every job is significantly affected by weather conditions, especially when the majority of business is conducted indoors. In the field, however, weather conditions can make or break missions. Tanner said many missions are specifically planned around weather patterns.
"It's about bringing the most important information to the commander's attention," Tanner said. "Weather can impact everything."
The weather information provided by the weather specialists is transmitted to commanders and pilots, each of which uses the information to plan and alter missions. This helps keep pilots from flying or landing in hazardous conditions, and helps commanders develop strategies that keep servicemembers safe.
Tanner said this collaboration was a complete success, and the relationship should continue in the future.
"I believe this is a marriage that could last for a long time and possibly even help some other weather flights out there across the country learn to incorporate the entire team that is under the air force national guard to better work together, to provide more training opportunities, to make us fit to fight," Tanner said.