Combat weather supports Army operations

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christian Little
  • 5th Combat Weather Group

Six Airmen from the 3rd Combat Weather Squadron provided weather support and analysis for the 4th Infantry Division throughout a National Training Center readiness exercise at Fort Irwin, California, Sep. 1-22, 2023.

These staff weather officers develop forecasts, provide manual observations for armored vehicles and aircraft, analyze environmental data for mission planning and brief Army leaders to enhance battlefield decision-making.

“The weather affects everybody, whether it’s blue or red forces,” said Army 1st Lt. Zachary Beasley, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team intelligence support element vice. “The SWOs enable us to accurately plan for integrating our ground and aerial assets and assess how the enemy may employ their assets.”

These SWOs specialize in collecting weather data and translating its impacts to warfighters, so they can reduce unpredictability when employing ground and air assets. Combat weather Airmen used Tactical Meteorological Observing Systems, Micro Weather Sensors, Mobility Kits and other sensing equipment to collect weather data to ensure effective employment of Stryker vehicles, CH-47 Chinook, AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and small unmanned aerial systems.

“We’re trying to think about what the weather is going to do and how the weather can benefit us over the enemy,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Julian Davis, 3rd Combat Weather Detachment 1 SWO. “It’s important for us to be involved, because we’re such a core part in their military decision-making process and operational framework.”

Army intelligence elements incorporated these weather assessments into warfighting planning processes and used them to generate operational impacts against their adversarial red forces.

“Based on their assessments, they enabled my platoon to assess enemy courses of action,” Beasley said. “They enable us to make those assessments which then enabled the brigade commander, the brigade staff, and, ultimately, the battalion staff to plan their maneuvers.”

The SWOs utilize their training to provide this accurate weather data even when operating in communication-denied environments.

“Using our general knowledge of weather is our biggest resource,” Davis said. “It’s knowing our job and being able to utilize our understanding of atmospheric dynamics to build weather forecasts without model data and being able to make a weather forecast if comms go down.”

Operationalizing weather requires extensive training and optimally integrating it into Army operations contributes to them succeeding in combat scenarios.

“There’s a lot that goes into what we can do for the army, and these exercises really help us understand our relationship with them better,” Davis said. “If we have a good relationship with this unit, we can better assist them and their abilities to fight and build on the lethality of the Army.”