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Name of the game: risk mitigation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Taryn Butler
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Since the troop retrograde from Iraq, which began in late June 2020, staff weather officers with the 22d Expeditionary Weather Squadron have continued to support U.S. Army personnel and assets across the area of responsibility.

“Our mission is to provide support for rotary wing [aircraft], medevac and transportation of personnel to or from different locations,” said Senior Airman Evelyn Pirrie, 22d EWXS staff weather officer. “We keep an eye on any weather changes from central Iraq down to Saudi Arabia, and update our pilots as necessary.”

In the past year, the SWOs have provided consistent environmental intelligence that ensures accurate operational planning and safe mission execution.

“SWOs will inject environmental intelligence into the Task Force's reiterative operational planning and then provide meteorological overwatch during an operation's or mission's execution phase through the completion of the objective,” said Maj. Zachariah Reinebold, 22d EWXS commander. “During execution any unexpected changes in conditions are immediately relayed to the task force and missions can be flexed with respect to either time, location, or objective which helps preserve the Task Force's operational capability and capacity. Ultimately, the environmental intelligence we provide enhances the lethality of our aligned Army task forces and the greater joint team.”

In addition to the SWOs aligned with task forces, an airfield weather support element was added to the team at Camp Buehring. This allows SWOs to focus entirely on their Army mission and the airfield weather support element to focus on providing installation resource protection.

“It frees our combat weather Airmen to more wholly integrate and move with their task force when they are tasked to move to forward locations,” said Reinebold. “The airfield weather capability also enables support and protection of emerging mission sets and their associated logistical tail through Camp Buehring.”

Being completely submerged in their respective task force allows the SWOs and Soldiers to create a bond and efficiently execute the Army and Air Force missions.

“Our staff weather officers ensure that our air crews have updated situational awareness of what the weather conditions are for their route of flight at all times,” said U.S. Army Col. Alan Gronewold, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade Task Force Phoenix commander. “Our staff weather officers are a great part of our team and we rely on them all the time. I walk into the TOC at least once or twice a day just to see what the general weather situation is on the ground. Our crews rely on them extensively for every single mission they fly.”