The Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) is a Field Operating Agency (FOA) and the lead military meteorology center of the United States Air Force. AFWA enhances the combat capability of the United States by delivering timely, accurate, and reliable environmental situational awareness worldwide to the Air Force, the Army, joint warfighters, Unified Combatant Commands, the national intelligence community, and the Secretary of Defense. The agency is currently headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska.
The AF Weather Agency fields high quality weather equipment and training to Air Force operational weather squadrons and weather flights at locations around the world. AFWA builds a comprehensive weather database of forecast, climatological, and space weather products. These products and services are exploited by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) field commanders and decision makers for many military operations, contingency missions, and humanitarian relief efforts conducted by the United States.
The Air Force Weather Agency's mission statement is as follows:
"The mission of Air Force Weather Agency is to maximize America's Power through the Exploitation of Timely, Accurate, and Relevant Weather Information; Anytime, Everywhere. AFWA is a Field Operating Agency, reporting to United States Air Force Director of Weather, Deputy Chief of Staff Air and Space Operations (USAF/A3O-W)."
Personnel and resources
AFWA manning consists of more than 1,400 active-duty, reserve, civilian and contract personnel and is headquartered on Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. AFWA executes a $175 million annual budget. Weather forecasts are produced using numerical weather prediction software such as the WRF model and the Unified Model, operating on supercomputers.
AFWA is organized into a headquarters element, consisting of staff agencies, two groups, three directorates, and five solar observatories. The 1st Weather Group (1 WXG), with headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, aligns stateside weather operations with the Air Force warfighting initiative overseeing Operational Weather Squadrons. Each of the squadrons produces forecasts for a specified area of the United States. The 15th OWS, located at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is responsible for the Northern and Northeast United States; 25th OWS, located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, is responsible for the Western United States; and 26th OWS, located at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, is responsible for the Southern United States. The squadrons also serve as training hubs for new weather professionals — both enlisted and officers. The 1st WXG equips U.S. weather professionals with the training and skills necessary to deliver environmental information for commanders and military decision makers.
The 2nd Weather Group (2 WXG), with headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, delivers timely, relevant and specialized terrestrial, space and climatological global weather information to Joint combatants, Department of Defense decision-makers, national agencies, and allied nations for the planning and execution of missions across the complete spectrum of military operations through the operation, sustainment and maintenance of Air Force Weather's US$277 million strategic center computer complex, production network, and applications. The 2nd WXG is composed of Offutt Air Force Base's 2nd Weather Squadron, 2nd Systems Operations Squadron, the 2nd Combat Weather Systems Squadron (2 CWSS), located at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and the 14th Weather Squadron in Asheville, North Carolina. It also includes four solar observatories that fall under the 2nd WS: Det. 1, Learmonth, Australia; Det. 2, Sagamore Hill, Massachusetts; Det. 4, Holloman AFB, New Mexico; and Det. 5, Palehua, Hawaii. The Operations, Training and Evaluation Directorate (A3) provides a heads-up display of the Air Force Weather Weapon System that strengthens AFWA’s ability to conduct weather ops and supports worldwide DoD operations. The A3 Directorate also delivers state-of-the-art technical training for the career field, oversees the development of career field training plans and computer-based tutorials on new equipment, is constructing the first formal AFWWS Technical Training Program, and coordinates standardization and evaluation visits of AFWA units.
The Communications Directorate (A6) provides overall direction for the development of doctrine, policies and procedures, as well as professional, technical, and managerial expertise, for communication and information systems, information assurance, and information management for AFWA. They also provide communication and information policy, guidance, management, operations, software development, and maintenance of communications and computer systems and services to satisfy the centralized weather support requirements of the DoD and other government agencies. Directs the planning, programming, budgeting, acquisition, and life cycle management for all standard weather systems and computer processing equipment. The Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs Directorate (A5/A8) directs the planning, programming, budgeting, acquisition, and life cycle management for all standard weather systems and computer processing equipment. Equipping the weather force is mainly a function of the A8 directorate. They coordinate capabilities development conducted by three separate production centers and integrate them into a single Air Force Weather Weapon System.
The Lt. Gen. Thomas Samuel Moorman Building, valued at US$26.7 million, is the Headquarters for the Air Force Weather Agency, with a total of 188,000 sq ft (17,500 m2). The three-story building, designed to support 1,100 people, and was scheduled to become fully operational by 2011 as the AFWA staff relocated in increments. The new facility is a "Gold Certified" Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) structure by the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED rating is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Being a LEED-certified building means the facility has been designed to and reached a recognized level of implementation and continuous monitoring of their "green" programs such as energy efficiency, recycling and the use of environmentally friendly products. The new AFWA building is an example of the emphasis the Air Force is placing on responsible use of and preservation of the environment. By becoming LEED certified, the AFWA facility will do its part to accomplish the vision of the Air Force Environmental Strategic Plan — fully supporting Air Force missions with natural infrastructure assets while protecting human health and safety and the environment. Initiatives and concepts incorporated into the AFWA headquarters building are part of the reason the Air Force was recently named number one among the nation's top 10 federal government green power partners.
The agency co-sponsors COMET, the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training, with the civilian National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Designations, stations and assignments
AFWA traces its heritage to the organization of the Meteorological Service of the United States Army Signal Corps during World War I. On 1 July 1937, the Secretary of War transferred responsibility for weather services to the Army Air Corps. United States Army surgeons began recording weather observations regularly in the early 19th century as part of the Army's medical studies. In 1870, the United States Congress directed the United States Secretary of War to establish a weather service for the nation. Thus, the Army's first organized military weather service was established in the U.S. Army Signal Corps; however, this service waned after Congress authorized the creation of the U.S. Weather Bureau, today's National Weather Service, in 1890.
America's entry into World War I highlighted once again the need for an organized military weather service. Today's Air Force Weather Agency directly traces its history to the re-emergence of a meteorological section within the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1917. By the mid-1930s, the Army Air Corps was consuming the majority of the weather data the Signal Corps produced. On 1 July 1937, the Army Air Corps Weather Service, under the leadership of the Chief of the Weather Section in the Office of the Chief of the Army Air Corps, assumed responsibility for all Army weather services from the Signal Corps.
During World War II, the Army Air Forces Weather Service girdled the globe with weather stations. The thousands of newly trained weather personnel fine honed the art and science of military weather services. They armed World War II commanders with vital decision-making tools. Many of the war's critical operations were predicated upon weather forecasting.
The official lineage of AFWA began 14 April 1943, when the Army Air Forces organized and activated the Weather Wing. On 3 May 1943, the headquarters of the Weather Wing relocated from Washington, D.C., to Asheville, North Carolina, where it quickly established itself. On 1 July 1945, the Army Air Forces redesignated the Weather Wing the Army Air Forces Weather Service and on 7 January 1946, the service moved to Langley Field, Virginia. On 13 March 1946, it was redesignated the Air Weather Service and assigned to the Air Transport Command, followed soon thereafter with a move to Gravelly Point, Virginia.
With the formation of the United States Air Force in 1947, Air Weather Service assumed the responsibility of worldwide weather reporting and forecasting for both the Air Force and the Army. In 1948, Air Weather Service moved to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, and was assigned to the newly activated Military Air Transport Service, which was later redesignated Military Airlift Command. Air Weather Service relocated to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, in 1958, where it remained for nearly four decades. Air Force Weather, organized as the Air Weather Service from 1947 to 1991, continued to provide environmental awareness for both the Air Force and the Army. By 1991, Air Weather Service had divested itself of its major field structure and the bulk of Air Force Weather was realigned under the direct administration of the supported commands.
Air Force Weather Agency and its predecessors has been essentially instrumental in the protection of life and property at home as well. Since World War II, Air Force weather personnel have provided hurricane reconnaissance. In 1948 two Air Force weather officers issued the first tornado warning. Air Force Weather participated in the development of the nation's severe storm forecasting centers.
With its early adoption of emerging computing and communications technologies, Air Force Weather was at the fore of the Space Age. In the 1960s Air Force Weather began assimilating weather data collected from meteorological satellites. At the same time, Air Force Weather, as the single agent for all of DoD, began solar observations and forecasting.
Air Force Weather endorsed the Information Revolution early in the 1980s with tools that provided state-of-the art computing at the lowest echelons to gather, process, and disseminate weather data. In concert with Air Force communicators, Air Force Weather constructed communications networks that enabled weather information to be disseminated around the world in moments. Today, the Air Force Weather Agency, through its Weather Product Management and Distribution System at Offutt AFB, employs the internet to rapidly disseminate weather data around the globe.
Working with the other national agencies, Air Force Weather has been instrumental in the development of modern meteorological technologies, such as the deployment of NEXRAD, the Next Generation Radar, in the 1990s. Air Force Weather continues to refine and develop forecasting models relevant for modern military operations.
In April 1991, the Office of the Director of Weather was created on the Air Staff to provide policy and guidance for Air Force Weather. During the latter half of the 1990s and continuing into the 21st century, Air Force Weather was reorganized to better meet the demands of modern military operations.
The Air Force designated Air Weather Service a field operating agency and reassigned it to Headquarters United States Air Force in 1991. On 15 Oct. 1997, Air Weather Service was redesignated the Air Force Weather Agency and relocated to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
Awards and honors
- 2000 Air Force Association Theodore Van Karman Award
- Air Force Organizational Excellence Award
- 1 May 1984 – 30 April 1986; 1 May 1986 – 30 April 1988; 1 September 1993 – 30 September 1995; 1 October 1995 – 30 September 1996; 1 September 1996 – 30 September 1998; 1 October 1998 – 30 September 1999; 1 October 1999 – 30 September 2001; 1 October 2001 – 30 September 2003
- World War II American Theater Service Streamer
- List of United States Air Force weather squadrons
- 1st Weather Group
- 2nd Weather Group
- Thomas Samuel Moorman
- Donald Norton Yates
- Overview of AFWA activities 2012 in JCSDA Quarterly Accessed 28 Oct 2012
- Weather links
- Aviation Weather Center
- Storm Prediction Center
- Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center
- Space Environment Center
- National Center for Environmental Prediction.
- The COMET program
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