By Air Force Senior Airman Gregory Nash, Moody Air Force Base
FORT IRWIN, Calif., March 1, 2018 — Using their specialized meteorology skills, Air Force weather forecasters from the 93rd Air-Ground Operations Wing from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, partnered with soldiers during predeployment training at the National Training Center here.
As the Army’s sole weather support asset, the Air Force weathermen ramped up their operations from Feb. 19-23 in the Mojave Desert by advising, training and assisting Army units to enhance interoperability and help ensure mission success.
“To fully integrate, we go on exercises and trainings like these to [embed] with the Army,” said weather operator Air Force Staff Sgt. Kevin Byrne, with the 3rd Air Support Operations Group, Detachment 3.
“It feels like we’re actually in the Army at times, and that helps to integrate with the units that we’ll be potentially deploying with downrange,” Byrne said. “Knowing the pilots and ground troops by name enhances familiarity and trust, which makes a huge difference on the battlefield.”
Having an arsenal of game-changing tactics in battle was paramount during the training rotation with weather playing a significant role every day.
“Weather impacts every individual in a mission,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Kristopher Day-Bottai, 3d ASOG weather forecaster. “Everything is sensitive around weather because [environmental conditions] can enable, limit or cancel a mission. Even if the weather isn’t detrimental to a mission or determines a different outcome, everyone wants to know the temperature and what to expect and we provide that.”
For Day-Bottai, assessing weather details from the ground and high-altitude levels gives the soldiers a huge advantage in maneuvering the landscape and atmosphere. He added that focusing on a myriad of weather aspects have proven to be invaluable from World War II’s “D-Day” up until now.
Impact of Weather
“We’ve seen plenty of times where weather has given aircraft and ground forces trouble and mission planning was altered for safety,” Day-Bottai said. “To keep assets safe, we primarily focus on assessing visibility, sky conditions and wind factors. We also collect temperature, pressure, dew point and lighting location information for, not only ourselves, but other units to help define their forecasts.”
According to Day-Bottai, determining the forecast is often one of the most challenging aspects due to the unpredictable nature of weather.
“We have planned forecasts but if predictions were always right, we wouldn’t need to adjust,” Day-Bottai said. “There’re been instances where before a mission, I had to notify an air traffic control tower and send out a weather update to ground a bunch of aircraft.”
Relying on swift decision-making like this was key for the participating Army units to successfully fight against mock insurgents and frigid temperatures in the desert.