SOSS weather Airmen: Forecasting mission success

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman John Linzmeier
  • 18 Wing Public Affairs
In the field of special operations, the climate is constantly affecting mission capabilities that are being conducted throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

In order to function in a diverse range of weather conditions, Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight provide mobile weather reading capabilities wherever they go.

"It's important for us to always know the status of our equipment and training because we may have to pack up our gear and take it with us for a mission at any time," said Master Sgt. Christopher Jones, 353rd SOSS Weather Flight superintendent.

Most tactical weather equipment is designed to be portable and capable of being set up and operated by one or two individuals. Airmen use the instruments to provide data that indicates temperature, moisture, winds, cloud conditions, atmospheric stability and more.

Up-to-date weather information is essential for mission planners, especially when coordinating any type of air activity.

"If the winds are too strong and you're trying to land personnel on the ground, our data can let them know whether it's safe to do or not," said Jones. "Depending on the conditions, missing the drop zone is possible, personnel could land in the water or someplace not planned. All of these things need to be taken into consideration by leadership. The more accurate we are, the easier it is for them to do their job."

Mission needs can require weather technicians to set up mobilized weather radars, meteorological observing systems, satellite systems, radio modems and more. The tools are used in foreign locations to help determine whether aircraft landing zones are safe. They also are used in support of search and rescue missions and humanitarian supply drops.

Recent advances in technology have also made equipment more accurate and more portable than previous editions, such as the recently implemented Tactical Atmospheric Sounding Kit, a weather balloon system that captures an assortment of atmospheric conditions from ground level to upwards of 40,000 feet.

"We can be placed in different locations with different meteorological networks," said Jones. "You can't always rely on the other countries infrastructure, so we have to provide our own capabilities without it."

Not only do weather Airmen answer to the needs of Air Force Special Operations Command, but they also disseminate safety information to the community about natural hazards, to include thunderstorms, inclement weather conditions and typhoon forecasts.

Whether it's providing climate information to a pilot who is about to take flight or setting up a satellite system for qualification training, special operations Airmen are constantly preparing for whatever comes their way.

"Training is a big part of what we do here," said Staff Sgt. Rudi Vogel, 353rd Weather Flight NCO in charge of contingency weather operations and training. "The SOF mission in this theater varies so much that we may not know what the next mission requires, so we have to be ready to do just about anything."