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Afghan Air Force Maj. Hamidullah, Kabul Air Wing weather section commander, gives the morning weather briefing to Afghan Air Force, Coalition and U.S. Air Force aircrew Nov. 15, 2012 at Kabul, Afghanistan, International Airport. The Kabul wing weather office produces a mission-execution forecast which enables the flying squadrons to take advantage of weather information and accomplish their missions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn)
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Afghan AF weather office provides vital weather data

Posted 11/27/2012   Updated 11/27/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn
438th Air Expeditionary Wing

11/27/2012 - KABUL, Afghanistan -- Cloudy with a chance of rain and heavy winds means little to most people. But every morning at the Kabul, Afghanistan, International Airport, the weather is briefed to Afghan Air Force, Coalition and U.S. Air Force aircrew so they are safely prepared to fly for the day.

The work of the Afghan Air Force's Kabul Air Wing weather office goes beyond tracking the weather at Kabul.

"The Kabul wing weather office produces a mission execution forecast which enables the flying squadrons to take advantage of weather information and accomplish their mission. This MEF is distributed to all of the Kabul Air Wing leadership, the Afghan Ministry of Transportation and civil aviation," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Pedro Gonzalez, who has been the 438th Air Expeditionary Advising Group, operations team lead and weather advisor for the past year.

Weather planning plays a very large role in military operations leadership is able to identify areas that may be affected by changes in the weather, especially in the places where humanitarian or military operations will be conducted. Afghanistan's terrain is dominated by mountains and it is important to know when avalanches are likely to occur in the winter months and flooding during the summer months. Tracking the rain also helps track irrigation for the crops in the south, affecting the country's agricultural and economic development.

"Whether you are a pilot flying a Mi-17 mission or planning for construction along the runway, weather plays a very important part in allowing leaders to make decisions based on environmental data provided," added Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has aimed his efforts at strengthening the current weather capabilities, establishing good communication channels and providing technical guidance to his counterparts for the further development of the AAF.

"By establishing good communication with my Afghan counterparts, I can be successful at instilling good operational practices," said Gonzalez. "This is in turn, helps them learn how to provide better weather support to the organizations they are assigned to."

Gonzalez has not only established good communication channels with his Afghan counterparts, but also ensured that they have the equipment needed to do the job properly.

"Gonzalez arranged for a weather radar to be installed, and taught us several computer and math lessons to help us with our job here," said AAF Maj. Hamidullah, KAW weather section commander. "Our job is very difficult and important. It is important that we have a mentor like Gonzalez, he knows a lot and is willing to teach us."

Establishing a good relationship with the AAF doesn't come without its challenges.

"Working with counterparts from a different culture has taught me to be respectful and patient," said Gonzalez. "Cultural differences can become an obstacle when training, yet if you learn to overcome those hurdles, you can also take advantages of the similarities."

Taking advantage of those similarities allows Gonzalez and the KAW weather office to work together to ensure the safety of aircrews, predict potential humanitarian relief needs, construction projects are completed and missions can be accomplished.

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