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Weather winds up

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lauren M. Snyder
  • 332d Air Expeditionary Wing

With four dual-functioning forecasters and observers, a flight chief and one weather officer, the 332d Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight protects 332d Air Expeditionary Wing Airmen and assets.

“We're here with 24/7 operations and we're always at work,” said 1st Lt. Judith Swan, 332d OSS Weather officer-in-charge. “We're supporting the base, the people here, aircraft above, assets on the ground and the area around us.”

Clear days with light winds may be the norm here, but with extreme temperatures or other significant weather, agencies around the base need situational awareness so they can take protective measures.

“If it's going to be below freezing for five days in a row, we’ll need to talk about our generators or the electrical lines that could freeze over,” said Swan. “For today’s strong winds, we’ve been forecasting that the last five days so everyone can plan accordingly. Back home, bad weather is a temptation to stay home, but here we can’t stop the mission. It’s a very different mindset here because they’re going to keep working on their jet up until the very minute it’s absolutely unsafe for them to be out there. There’s more pressure on our forecasters to make sure that they've got it right.”

The 332d EOSS weather flight reaches back to the 28th Operational Weather Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, for graphics and can check with some local sources for current conditions, however the 332d AEW is in a rather meteorologically data-sparse environment.

“All of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility is classified as a limited data area, because we don't have weather sensors at all of our locations,” said Swan. “Observing sites are very few and far between which makes forecasting and giving accurate real-time information difficult. We can't just call the next station because the next closest might be over 250 miles away, where they're not seeing what we’re going to see.”

Another way weather contributes to 332d AEW awareness and capabilities is with the 332d EOSS Intelligence Flight.

“We have products that analyze adversary locations across the AOR to determine their ability to target us. It says which airfields have good weather to launch assets specifically to us here and which ones are the most likely to make those kinetic attempts,” said Swan. “It feels really different in a good way to be so tied into the mission here. We are building a relationship and aligned with Intel; it makes sense as they're forecasting people and we’re forecasting outside.”

The 332d EOSS Weather Flight delivers customized meteorological support for the 332d AEW’s varied structural and agency sensitivities, multiple aircraft, and ensures the wing’s continued success in delivering combat airpower and regional security.

The 332d AEW has a wide array of combat Air Force capabilities including precision strike, aerial refueling, and Combat Search and Rescue. The wing’s warfighters, which generate, execute and sustain combat airpower in support of U.S. Air Forces Central and CENTCOM Commanders, seize combat initiative by, with, and through mission partners – building on the Red Tail legacy of excellence.