Camp Bowie Training Center, Texas --
Airmen from the 3d Weather Squadron participated in a certification field exercise, Jan. 13-15, here.
The exercise allowed 56 staff weather officers to evaluate the skills needed to provide integrated, tailored environmental inputs to make the U.S. Army more lethal.
“Weather doesn’t just shape the battlefield, it helps us predict the enemy’s capabilities,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Gendron, 3d WS SWO. “So, if we know something that impacts our assets, we know it’ll impact their assets as well.”
The CFX was designed to prepare 3d WS Airmen for future missions and scenarios they may encounter.
“We’re training to break the mindset of having everything we need downrange, which will help us prepare for being in new environments,” Gendron said. “The Airmen will have a 30-hour day of non-stop movement and have their 72-hour rucks. They’re going to be tired, fatigued, deprived of sleep and pushed to their limits.”
This training prepares Airmen to operate more independently during a near-peer fight, and it pushes young leaders to make decisions for their teams in a hostile, communication-denied battle space.
“These team leads need to be able to address and handle situations when they’re stressed,” Gendron said. “It’s not something you see too often in other career fields, where you have an opportunity to go out and push [yourself] like we get to do in this exercise."
The exercise assessed participants’ abilities to set up a tactical meteorological observation system, a mobile weather sensor, and maintain it if it breaks.
“We use the TMOS to build our weather products for a point location,” Gendron said. “It helps us get aircraft on and off the ground by being able to observe the weather and put together forecast products.”
The CFX not only sharpens its participants’ forecasting capabilities, but it also evaluates their potential life-saving skills.
“Part of the skills Army weather support has to have is land navigation capabilities,” Gendron said. “During this training, participants’ vehicles are going to be disabled which will force the Airmen to go on foot to their next location. We have to be able to establish a weather support network. We also have opposing force attack scenarios. Airmen need to understand escalation of force and know how to defend themselves if attacks are present.”
Additionally, the exercise evaluated Airmen’s ability to perform tactical combat casualty care procedures to ensure if someone gets hurt, they have the knowledge to assist injured personnel during combat.
Training exercises like these standardize the squadron’s training to help SWOs shape the battlefield with weather intelligence and give Army commanders a single standard of support.
“We take account of asset vulnerabilities as well as personnel and translate it to the real-world battlefield effects to help Army officials make informed decisions,” Gendron said. “Some examples would be, slowing down convoy movements or pushing a mission to the right or left. We give key leaders weather intelligence so they not only know what impacts they’ll have, but what opportunities exist.”
According to Gendron, the exercise gave Airmen first-hand experience in potential field conditions.
“I just came from [Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska],” said Staff Sgt. Paris Coombs, 3d WS staff weather officer. “We didn’t do land navigation, and I’ve never worn a tactical vest before coming here. So, there were a lot of things I took from this exercise. I learned that I struggle with thinking on the fly even though I know my job and that I need to rely on my people.”
These skills prepare 3d WS leaders and Airmen to work together and support the U.S. Army in the field.