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2nd Weather Group
557th WW trains its own to deploy anytime, everywhere
Instructors from the 2nd Combat Weather Systems Squadron took on an unusual set of students, a class composed entirely of Airmen from a single unit. Airmen from the 25th Operational Weather Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, attended the Deployed Weather Systems Training class at Hurlburt Field, Florida, as part of pre-deployment training Aug. 19-22, 2019. It is unusual to have a DWST class made up entirely of personnel from one unit. Classes are normally made up of students from several different weather squadrons but as the 557th WW is tasked to execute a greater number of deployment requirements, future DWST classes made up of one squadron may become more common. The 2nd CWSS is a combat-ready test and training squadron that combines maintenance, cyber and weather specialties, within the 557th Weather Wing, that cultivates advanced maintenance skills and operational expertise among its members for use on fielded tactical weather systems employed at downrange locations.
557th WW holds first wing operational readiness exercise
The 557th Weather Wing completed its first operational readiness exercise since standing up as an Air Combat Command wing. Held Aug. 19-23, Operational Readiness Exercise - Steel Colander tested the wing’s ability to deliver weather intelligence in a contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment. “We exercised not only wing capabilities located on Offutt Air Force Base, but also those of our geographically-separated units worldwide, to include all our operational weather squadrons,” said Ted Vroman, a 557th WW Plans and Programs exercise planner.
ROKAF Weather Wing commander visits 557th WW
The commander of the Republic of Korea Air Force Weather Wing visited 557th Weather Wing headquarters June 20, 2019. The ROK-US weather collaboration meeting, held between Col. Gyun Do Ki, ROKAF WW commander, and Col. Brian Pukall, 557th WW commander, is traditionally held every two years after the respective wings have a change in command. “Ever since I commissioned as a Weather Officer in ROKAF, I always aspired to come visit here,” said Ki. “After 30 years of service, my lifelong dream finally came true. I sincerely appreciate your hospitality.” The mission of the 557th WW, the Air Force’s only weather wing, is to maximize America’s power through the exploitation of timely, accurate and relevant weather information; anytime, everywhere.
ACC Airmen performing space mission in Australia celebrate 40 years
The Learmonth Solar Observatory celebrated its 40th anniversary April 27, 2019, at Learmonth, Western Australia, giving solar immersion briefings at the facility and holding a partnership barbecue. The observatory is operated jointly by 2nd Weather Squadron’s Detachment 1 and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Space Weather Services. “Learmonth Solar Observatory is one of the few places that I’ve heard of whose continuing mission has not really changed in 40 years,” said Master Sgt. Cassandra Denton, Detachment 1 NCO in charge of Solar Electro-Optical Network maintenance. “Major commands changed, but the day-to-day mission of being Sun Spies has not.” Learmonth is one of five solar observatories around the world maintained by the 2nd WS. With locations at Learmonth, Australia; San Vito, Italy; Hamilton, Massachusetts, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and Kaena Point, Hawaii; each observatory is positioned to keep the sun in view as the Earth turns. Their collective mission is to provide timely space situational awareness by observing and reporting space weather phenomena as well as its relevance to communications and other Defense Department space-based and Earth-based missions.
2nd WXG innovations: Task Force Bat Phone delivers data Airmen need
This is the second part of a series highlighting innovations by the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Group. Using off-the-shelf components, new processes and a little inspiration from Batman, a group of innovative Airmen from the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Group are changing how information is transmitted in the field. Exercise Adaptive Lightning’s Task Force Bat Phone is designed to provide data capabilities for on-the-move and first-in situations – the first 72 hours after establishing a new operating location. “Even in the best scenario, such as setting up for a field exercise, there's always a lag between the start of the setup and the establishment of a secure data link,” said Tech. Sgt. Matt Mattern, 16th Weather Squadron NCO in charge of model operations. The Bat Phone leverages existing military radio communication and computer equipment to transmit information without using a formal communications link. Custom-built software retrieves data from Air Force Weather Web Services – known as AFW-WEBS – and packages it for delivery to deployed users in the field using a laptop.
2nd WXG Innovations: 14th WS releases new climate go kit
This is the first of a series highlighting innovations by the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Group. After only six months of in-house development, the 2nd WXG’s 14th Weather Squadron in Asheville, North Carolina, introduced their Climate Go-Kit, a new tool for weather forecasters to prepare for operations in Contested, Degraded or Operationally-limited, known as CDO, environments. The go-kit’s development aligns with three Air Force priorities: to drive innovation, restore readiness and cost-effectively modernize. “Go-kits provide climate information about a country directly to the warfighter,” said Master Sgt. Kenneth Elwood, 14th WS systems flight chief. “Users can use the information to help familiarize themselves with the country’s climate; answer planning and general climate type questions; and develop forecasts, to name just a few.” The 14th WS is the Air Force’s only climate operations unit, co-located with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The 14th WS collects, protects and exploits authoritative climate data to optimize military and intelligence operations and planning worldwide.
557th WW joins 55th WG for Winter Havoc
The 557th Weather Wing joined the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base’s host wing, for the Operational Readiness Exercise Winter Havoc. Twenty-one Airmen from the 2nd Systems Operations Squadron, 2nd Weather Squadron and 16th Weather Squadron joined approximately 600 other Offutt AFB Airmen for the late January exercise, marking the first time the wing has partnered with the 55th WG for a mass readiness exercise since the 557th WW’s creation in 2015. “The 557 WW demonstrated its capability to deliver ready weather and cyber forces in support of multi-domain operations against any adversary across the entire spectrum of conflict,” said Lt Col. Kenneth Roberts, 2nd Weather Support Squadron commander and 557th WW Crisis Action Team representative for the exercise. This first phase of the exercise focused on pre-deployment preparations, getting Airmen ready to deploy and moving cargo. Phase two will continue in the spring.
2 WS shares Halloween down under
On Halloween, nearly 430 people from Exmouth – a town of about 2,000 located on Western Australia’s Northwest coast – visited a haunted house built by Airmen from 2nd Weather Squadron’s Detachment 1. The popularity of the detachment’s haunted house is underscored by the fact that Australia isn’t known for celebrating Halloween, however, its popularity has been on the rise in recent years.
Cyber Airmen “fuel” innovation
Cyber Airmen assigned to the 557th Weather Wing recently teamed together with the Defense Innovation Unit program making changes to how airborne tankers are scheduled. The changes are the direct result of a March 8, 2018, memo from Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, where he stated, “bringing the future faster requires both expanding our culture of innovation and balancing prudent risk acceptance with agile reaction.” That is the goal of the Defense Innovation Unit where members of the military partner with companies that specialize in fields such as artificial intelligence and information technology, to find new solutions to complex problems.
2nd WS Airmen give a voice to weather
Many people check the weather before they start their day; looking for guidance about how they should dress, how their commute may be affected and whether they can expect severe weather. For service members overseas, this can be difficult as their local weather may be presented in a foreign language, in an unfamiliar temperature scale or may not even exist. Four Airmen from the 2nd Weather Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, provide this service to men and women all over the world by producing weather forecasts for both the American Forces Network and Stars and Stripes. However, broadcasting is not in their blood.
2nd WXG holds change of command
The 2nd Weather Group held its change of command ceremony July 11, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Col. Patrick Williams assumed command from outgoing commander Col. Jason Patla in a ceremony officiated by 557th Weather Wing Commander Col. Brian Pukall.