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AGOW weather Airmen still provide predictions during pandemic

weather Airman takes notes

Maj. Zach Reinbold, 3d Weather Squadron (WS) Det 1 commander, writes down notes during a certification field exercise (CFX), July 29, 2019, at Camp bowie Training Center Texas. The CFX was designed to evaluate the squadron’s overall tactical ability and readiness to provide the U.S. Army with full spectrum environmental support to the Joint Task Force (JTF) fight. While deployed, the Army relies on the 3d WS to provide them with current terrestrial and ground weather reports. These reports are then employed by commanders on the ground as they plan the best tactics and approaches to accomplish the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eugene Oliver)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

The weather doesn’t stop for a pandemic, and neither do our Airmen. 

Army Weather Support Airmen from the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing (AGOW) worked through the COVID-19 quarantine to protect the Army’s assets at bases across the United States.

The 3rd Combat Weather Squadron (CWS) and the 18th Combat Weather Squadron provided aviation weather support and base resource protection while practicing social distancing and taking necessary precautions against COVID-19.

“We’ve continued to provide aviation support with minimal manning out at the airfield, and our maintenance technicians have continued to work despite min-manning,” said Cindy Howell, 18th CWS supervisory meteorological technician at Fort Rucker, Alabama. “It really hasn’t affected our mission capability whatsoever.” 

These two squadrons are broken down into smaller detachments and operating locations and distributed to 19 Army posts across the country. The 18th CWS is in the East, and the 3d CWS is in the West. Both combat weather squadrons have continued operations despite the need to keep social distance. The 3d CWS’s Operating Location C helped keep Army basic training on track at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. 

“The training still goes on. People still come in for basic training. They still have to go to tech school, and they still have to go back out to the field,” said Clint Dobry, 3d CWS supervisory meteorological technician at Fort Leonard Wood. “What has changed though is the travel restrictions for the DOD and for these people going in and out. Since they have to go out to the field to meet the mission, we’ve tried to figure out ways to get these people to their duty stations safely without them having any contact with the local population.”

At Fort Leonard Wood this included flying commercial aircraft directly to the base to transport trainees, and the 3d CWS adapted and supported the needs of these new aircraft. The weather squadrons also keep the base communities safe on the ground. 

“This month we’ve had two severe weather events. We’ve continued to provide severe weather support right from home. We issued the tornado warning for Fort Rucker, again keeping the base population safe,” said Howell. “And it’s a 24/7 job.”

The pandemic hasn’t affected what the squadrons provide to the mission, but it has affected how they work. Social distancing measures mean there are less people on hand to help at the office and more people are working remotely. 

They have also found ways to continue training and maintain their “shoot, move, communicate” skills. Both the 3d CWS and the 18th CWS are tasked with Immediate Response Force and Contingency Response Force missions which require rapid mobility, no matter the operating environment, eliminating the ability to conduct just-in-time training.

“Combat Weather Airmen are notoriously known for getting the mission done despite the challenges they may face,” said Maj. Benjamin Wood, 93d AGOW Commander’s Action Group director. “Being embedded with the Army requires each Airmen to be self-sufficient and forges leaders through the unique environment they operate in. It comes as no surprise our Combat Weather Squadrons are adapting to this new operating environment and finding ways to be ready for the next fight.”

Both combat weather squadrons have worked together to help each other, support the Army, and get the job done.

“Despite the social distancing, we’ve come together like never before, and our mission has carried on and we’ve not missed a beat,” said Howell. “And I’m just real proud of my team, and I’m proud to be part of the 18th [Combat] Weather Squadron.”