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557th Weather Wing
15th OWS creating margin with Ready Month
The 15th Operational Weather Squadron has introduced a new scheduling model this year to improve readiness, morale and the ability to train. Dubbed “Ready Month,” the plan provides the opportunity for one of the squadron’s four operational flights to come off 24/7 operations for a month to focus on specialized deployment training, team and individual resiliency and flight-wide professional development, while still providing an additional stand-by margin of continuous surge capacity to the operations floor when required. “Resiliency has joined readiness as the two highest priorities for senior leaders and command teams across our Air Force and the Defense Department,” said Lt. Col. Lance Ratterman, 15th OWS commander. “Often times these two priorities can be competing, gains in readiness sometimes come at the expense of resiliency and vice versa.” Based at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, the 15th OWS began operations in February 1999 and spent most of its first two decades focused on a training-centered mission while providing aircrew weather briefings, airfield forecasts, and weather threat alerts for Defense Department locations across the Northeast United States. In the last three years, the 15th OWS mission has evolved and expanded to a global scale. The changes include the implementation of a state-of-the-art graphics system, used to identify aviation hazards across the world. Moreover, the squadron has seen a 650% increase in overseas deployments.
Cyber Evolution: 16th WS
The 16th Weather Squadron is leading the way, reorganizing to become the 557th Weather Wing’s dedicated software and innovation squadron, a move that will generate new insights on environmental intelligence for combatant commanders around the globe. When complete, the reorganization will reinforce 16th WS’s culture of science and technological innovation and warfighter ethos, contributing to the National Defense Strategy’s line of effort to reform the Defense Department for greater lethality and performance.
Made with love in Australia by a 2nd WS Airman
A 2nd Weather Squadron Airman stationed in Australia is crafting hope in her local community in the midst of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Staff Sgt. Kalynn Mitchell, a 2nd WS solar analyst at Learmonth Solar Observatory in Exmouth, Western Australia, is using her sewing machine and fabric from a local hardware store to create face masks for medical workers and others at risk in the community. “I think the world needs hope,” said Capt. Ustem Nu, 2nd WS Detachment 1 commander. “Every day we see the news about more and more people dying or people not caring. It can be overwhelming and disheartening at times. What Staff Sgt. Mitchell is doing, whether she realizes it or not, is giving hope to people.”
557th WW integrating with 16th AF missions
The 557th Weather Wing is working to integrate its strengths into the recently formed 16th Air Force, which brought intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyber, electronic warfare, information operations and weather all under one roof. Integration is a key theme for the Air Force’s first information warfare numbered air force. The 557th’s efforts both reinforce the value of the wing’s existing missions, such as providing weather for aviation, but also offer new opportunities for the wing to increase lethality in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions of other 16th AF wings. “The realignment of the 557th WW into the information warfare numbered air force will have a profound effect on the future of weather and environmental intelligence operations, and we intend to bring that future fast,” said Jeffrey Fries, 1st Weather Group chief of operations standards and tactics.
Weather Airmen share mission at Rose Bowl event
As people prepared to celebrate the New Year’s holiday, five Airmen from units across the 557th Weather Wing journeyed to Pasadena, California. Their mission was to tell the Air Force Weather story at Live on Green!, a free entertainment and education event that precedes the annual Rose Parade and Rose Bowl football game. “This event enabled our diverse team of Airmen to educate the public about roles and capabilities within Air Force Weather,” said Capt. Jeremy Mayo-Johnson, 14th Weather Squadron climate development analyst and team lead at the event. “We were able to show people of all ages that meteorologists can be more than just weathermen on TV and that the Air Force has a wide variety of career opportunities.”Live on Green!, now in its fifth year, offers entertainment and education to the 700,000 people who visit Pasadena for the annual parade and football game. Activities offered include musical performances, culinary demos, games and more.
557th WW realigns under new information warfare NAF
The 557th Weather Wing has been reassigned to the Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber). The reassignment ceremony, held at the 557th WW’s headquarters here Oct. 29, was attended by commanders from Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) and Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern), its former Numbered Air Force. The 557th WW joins the 55th Wing and other units whose missions fall under the new Information Warfare NAF. “The 557th operates a truly global and data-driven enterprise,” said Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) commander. “On a daily basis, your Airmen exploit a worldwide network of sensors, processing mass quantities of data, connected to a communications network capable of disseminating weather intelligence at the speed of decision to create outcomes for joint commanders.”
Air Force integrates missions, strengthens information warfare capabilities
Sixteenth Air Force activated at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Oct. 11, integrating Twenty-Fourth Air Force, to include Air Forces Cyber, and Twenty-Fifth Air Force into a single headquarters that will provide global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber, electronic warfare and information operations.
Minnesota visitors receive surprise visit to Offutt
In what was an absolute surprise to all of them, 82 people from Southeastern Minnesota toured Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, Sept. 19, 2019. The visit was part of three-day mystery tour to Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska offered by Home Federal Savings Bank, a local bank. “When they left Rochester they had no idea where they were going, not even to the state,” said Jean Jech, director of Home Federal Savings Bank’s Jubilee Travel Club. “Several of them bring maps of four different states, trying to figure out which way we’re going.” The visit to Offutt AFB included mission and historical briefings at the 557th Weather Wing as well as lunch at the King Dining Facility. Members of the group also had the opportunity to speak with Airmen who have recently deployed.
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.
Midshipmen visit 15th OWS to learn Midwest weather
Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy visited the 15th Operational Weather Squadron May 11, 2019, to learn about severe weather and its effects on aviation. An example of cross service partnership, the annual visit allows future naval officers the opportunity to learn about weather phenomena from weather Airmen with real world experience and to discover the similarities and differences between the Air Force and Navy meteorology missions.
Most important weather forecast ever made
Seventy-five years ago, Allied forces began the task of opening the second front in Europe when they landed on the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. Weather was a key factor in deciding when and where the invasion would take place. There were competing priorities when selecting the desired conditions for the invasion. “You have to think of all the many varied platforms that would be used to launch the offensive, each one needed certain conditions,” said Kent Sieg, 557th Weather Wing historian. “Bombers needed clear sight to targets. Tides had to be low to expose obstacles, but could not be too low or troops would have too long a distance to get to shore.” Selecting a date that would be the best compromise for these requirements was the challenge. The time determined to be most favorable for an offensive was a full moon. Had Stagg and his team delayed the invasion until the next full moon, June 19, Allied forces would have faced one of the largest storms in the English Channel in almost 80 years and D-Day may have very well failed.
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.
1 WXG’s virtual training brings real benefits
Airmen assigned to the 1st Weather Group are rolling out virtual reality training tailored to the needs of the Air Force Weather community, allowing them to train faster and smarter. Delivered on March 14, 2019, 1st WXG’s NextGen Environmental Weather Training System simulates setting up and assembling a tactical meteorological observation system, known as a TMQ-53. The TMQ-53 is a portable, automated weather station that can take observations in up to one minute intervals, enabling flying missions around the world. The data it produces can be utilized by a weather observer in the field or by the Air Force Weather community using satellite communications. The TMQ-53 simulation complements other weather VR training products being developed in parallel by the 3rd Weather Squadron at Fort Hood, Texas; the 18th Weather Squadron at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and the 93rd Air-Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Coordination on the development maximized the innovation while eliminating a duplication of efforts. “The realism of the VR was incredible,” said Capt. Matthew Perkins, 1st WXG science officer. “I could make out tiny labels and serial numbers on equipment, and aircraft even flew overhead during the simulation. Virtual reality brings unprecedented realism to our training ability when the physical equipment is unavailable. Our deployed Airmen will have greater familiarity with these tools than ever before.”
26th OWS Airmen experience the pilot’s perspective
Two Airmen from the 26th Operational Weather Squadron got to experience the weather they normally only forecast when they donned flight suits and took to the skies at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, Feb. 21, 2019. Tech. Sgt. Chris Bieber, 26th OWS shift supervisor, and Senior Airman McKayla Dejohnette, 26th OWS weather forecaster, received the opportunity to see firsthand how their weather products affect the mission when they took a familiarization flight on two F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from the 4th Fighter Wing’s 333rd Fighter Squadron. “Seeing how important low cloud forecasts are to their planning process from a firsthand perspective will allow me to stress that importance to the 26th OWS forecasters,” Bieber said. “Doing our job without actually seeing the impact it has on the pilots can convolute the importance of what we do. This is especially true of a feature like low clouds as opposed to something more obvious like thunderstorms.” Based out of Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, the 26th OWS is one of six operational weather squadrons in the 557th Weather Wing’s 1st Weather Group. It provides weather operations support for the Southeastern and Southcentral United States as well as the Caribbean.
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.
17th OWS wins weather squadron of the year
The 17th Operational Weather Squadron has been selected as the Air Force Weather Squadron of the Year for 2018. Located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, the 17th OWS provides weather operations support throughout the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. One of the squadron’s accomplishments was producing over 9,000 detailed position and intensity analyses in response to tropical cyclones that were active in the region. The 1,200 warnings that were issued gave 17 bases and 53 ships almost two days of advance notice to take protective measures. “We’re extremely excited and humbled to receive this recognition,” said, Lt. Col. Charles Cunningham, 17th OWS commander. “We have an amazing team of Airmen at the 17th OWS, who are laser-focused on conducting world-class weather operations in support of USINDOPACOM.”