CHAPTER 8: CHRONOLOGY 1997-2006
“No one is ever really interested in the weather until they are impacted by the weather. The same is true of solar weather.”
— TSgt. Donald R. Milliman, NCOIC, Detachment 2, 2nd Weather Squadron (AFWA), Sagamore Hill, MA
10 Jan AF/XOO announced a fundamental change to the way pilots received notice to airman (NOTAM) information. NOTAMs were divorced from weather communications circuits. Pilots would access NOTAMs via common user communication links using World Wide Web (WWW) technology.
6 Jan AWS published the AFW Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for Meteorological Operations Capability (MOC). The document described how AFW would operate and sustain weather systems fielded in the early 21st century. MOC began as an effort to bridge the gap between existing capabilities, near-term planned capabilities, and those required by 2025. Future weather systems had a forecast platform and as much as possible, an automated observing capability. The Forecast System 21st century (FS21) succeeded existing weather and weather effects information management systems in response to a growing need for more and faster value-added weather information delivered to the warfighter. FS21 supported global in-garrison and deployed Air Force and Army operations. The Observing System 21st century (OS21) provided enhanced state-of-the-art sensor capabilities, automated as much as was technologically feasible, for in-garrison and deployed surface and upper-air observing requirements.
27 Jan AF/XOWP encouraged AFW Army support units to take advantage of the US Army Intelligence Center’s Staff Weather Officer and NCO course. Recent classes had been severely underutilized. The Center, located at Fort Huachuca, AZ., offered a two week indoctrination course twice a year and it was designed to provide introduction information about Army missions, tactics, operations, supply, equipment, etc. This was an excellent means for junior to mid-level personnel to receive the basic knowledge needed to initially integrate themselves into Army operations.
31 Jan AFGWC’s Air Force Weather Information Network (AFWIN) reached operational capability. AFWIN provided the remote, NIPRNet connected user with the capability to select, retrieve, and display AFGWC products using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) web browser software.
14 Feb AF/XOW submitted an organizational change request for AWS as part of AFWs ongoing reengineering efforts. The request asked for approval to reorganize HQ AWS and its major subordinate unit, AFGWC, to notionally become Air Force Global Weather Agency (AFGWA). AF/XPM subsequently approved the request on 9 Apr 97 to inactivate AFGWC, but redesignate HQ AWS as the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) (instead of AFGWA), and move it to Offutt, AFB, NE. The move was designed to improve weather support by putting management overhead into production. It streamlined the weather function by reducing “top heavy” management overhead, eliminated stand-alone headquarters, and removed a management layer between the field and production center. In addition the move enabled AFW to eliminate 72 unfunded manpower positions and overcome the impact of converting 49 officer-to-enlisted positions.
15 Feb Transfer of Lead Command for Space Environmental System Acquisition and Modernization from Air Weather Service to Air Force Space Command (AFSPC). Program Action Directive (PAD) 97-01 directed the transfer of lead command for space environmental system acquisition and modernization thereby with AFSPC becoming lead MAJCOM for the total space environmental support system.
24 Mar The DoD Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) Program Director, Lt Col Jamilkowski (AWS/SY), informed National Weather Service (NWS) the NEXRAD Joint System Program Office was unable to locate a site for the Griffiss AFB, NY, WSR-88D radar that met both DoD requirements for low-level coverage over Ft Drum, NY, and NWS desires for low-level coverage over Syracuse, NY. The 1993 Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) decision to close Griffiss enabled the DoD to move the Griffiss radar to a more optimal location to support the Ft Drum resource protection and aviation missions. Spragueville, NY, was the initial location, but the JSPO eventually installed the radar in the town of Montague, NY.1
18 Mar Navy/Air Force Cooperation (NAV/AF COOP) Pre-Executive Steering Group met to review the progress the NAVAF COOP Working Group had made towards implementing agreed upon areas of cooperation. This was the third annual meeting since the Oceanographer of the Navy and the AF Directorate of Weather issued joint direction in 1994 committing respective staffs work 16 specific initiatives spread across eight areas. The group’s mission was “to continually improve environmental support to the warfighter while preventing unnecessary duplication, focusing on the strengths of each service and building on existing cooperative efforts.”
4 Apr AF Safety Office (AF/SE) published revised lightning safety procedures. These procedures were in response to 14 Aug 1996 CSAF directed update of AF guidance for lightning safety. Each AF installation developed local procedures to implement a two-tiered lightning notification system consisting of watches and warnings. Watches would be in effect 30 minutes prior to thunderstorms being within 5 nautical miles and a lightning warning would be in effect whenever any lightning is occurring within 5 nautical miles.
16 Apr Space Weather Analysis and Forecast System (SWAFS) Operational Requirements document was approved. The SWAFS program would upgrade/replace the computer systems and provide space weather models for use by the 55th Space Weather Squadron (SWXS) at Falcon AFB, CO. The 55th SWXS was the primary agency providing real time space environment support to DoD and National Program operations.
1 May AWS/CV, Col Gerald Riley Jr., requested AFSPC/DRF notify SMC/CI [DMSP system program office (SPO)] to proceed with their proposed Small Tactical Terminal modification. The modification would reduce the size and weight of the system while enhancing its processing speed. The SPO would replace the 17 inch external monitor with a 16 inch liquid crystal digital monitor integrated as a workstation with CD-ROM, detachable keyboard, and tape drive; upgrade the processor from a SPARC 20 to a SPARC ULTRA; and replace two tracking antennae with one, 3 foot antenna capable of receiving both high and low resolution data from polar-orbiting civilian satellites as well as DMSP.
4 Jun CSAF approved AF/XOW’s plan to reengineer the Air Force weather function at a briefing provided by Brig Gen Lewis this date.
Jul AF weather stations at Prince Sultan AB, SA and Al-Jaber AB, KW, received Interim Tactical Weather Radar (ITWR) for forecasters use in providing support to the Operation SOUTHERN WATCH area of operations. Joint Task force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA) monitored and controlled airspace south of the 32nd Parallel (extended to the 33rd Parallel in 1996) in Iraq, following the 1991 Gulf War. Plagued by initial poor operational availability, AWS deployed a team of military and contractor personnel to restore the systems and reinstall the antennae into hard shelters.
9 Jul The 24th Weather Squadron, Theater Weather Flight (WSS), Howard AFB, Panama, was awarded the 1996 Moorman Award during ceremonies at the Pentagon. The unprecedented event marked the first time General Thomas S. Moorman, Jr., Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force and his father, Lt. Gen. (retired) Thomas S. Moorman, Sr., were in attendance for presentation of the award named in honor of the senior Moorman. Representing USSOUTHCOM, Brig. Gen. Mark Schmidt, Commander, 24th Wing, Howard AFB, Panama, accepted the award from the vice chief of staff on behalf of the members of the 24 WS/WSS. He noted the important role weather forecasting played in accomplishing missions over a large geographical area containing diverse weather activity. “Weather forecasting is vital to the USSOUTHCOM mission because divert bases can be as much as 100 miles away," he said. He defined forecasting as "invaluable" (to the mission) and lauded the award recipients for a 90% accuracy rate during 1996.2
1 Aug AF/XOW published the AFW Strategic Plan for reengineering the weather function. The plan addressed serious challenges that required immediate action to prepare AFW for the 21st Century Air Force: structure must be optimized to gain a winning combat edge; manpower reallocations, enhanced training, and an improved career path were required to address cuts, grade reductions, and loss of experience; integrate into Joint and Component operations at all levels providing a seamless transition from peacetime to wartime weather operations.
Routine 24-hour forecasting was transferred from base/post-level to newly created OWSs. Combat/unit weather teams (CWTs) at the base/post-level provided a single entity led by the senior weather representative: typically, a weather flight under the operational support squadron (OSS) at AF bases, and flights, detachments or operating locations at Army installations.
4 Aug AF/XOW tasked AWS/CC to ensure AFW weather systems are compliant with the appropriate Year 2000 (Y2K) Computer System Vulnerability guidance. Center commanders were to validate their assigned systems were compliant no later than 1 Aug 1998. Rather than posting progress in the Defense Integration Support Tools (DIST) database, AWS was to use the AF Automated Systems Inventory database to ensure continued funding of AFW systems.
25 Aug AF/XOW expressed concern to SAF/AQR about the recent decision to cut research and development funding in the FY99 amended POM. This was a “serious” situation as it left the AF with limited capabilities to leverage and transition new technologies to improve AFW “go-to-war” capabilities. XOW proposed a possible alternative to provide a level of funding in the new Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) to support AF-wide weather research needs. These funds along with a small cadre of researchers would focus their efforts on documented AF warfighter needs, thus maximizing the return on AF Science and & Technology investment dollars.
2 Sep AWS/SY requested AMC, ANG, and ACC units participate in an operational test of the Meteorological Information Standard Terminal (MIST) Block I. MIST replaced Air Force digital Graphics System (AFDIGS) and Automated Digital Facsimile System (ADFS). Those weather units that did not receive AWDS were still relying on AFDIGS and ADFS to receive weather products. MIST provided a capability for these units to view weather products in a similar fashion as those units which used AWDS.
12 Sep Col Joseph D. Dushan relinquished command of AWS to Col John L. Hays in a change-of-command ceremony. Col Hays would continue to serve as the Commander of AFGWC for a brief period.
25 Sep The contract for the NEXRAD Transition Power Maintenance Shelter (TPMS) was awarded this date with cost for CONUS sites set at $185K and overseas cost ranging from $335-640K per system. The TPMS was part of the “get well” plan to improve NEXRAD system availability.
1 Oct AF/XOW published AFW’s Mission Support Plan (MSP). The AFW MSP [similar in nature to the Weather 85 and Weather 2000 plans prepared in previous years] served as a baseline document that identified high-level roadmaps which outlined potential solutions to identified deficiencies. Using a strategy to task analysis the integrated process team identified the key enduring weather operational tasks that must be accomplished to support the successful completion of AF, Army, and National Program operational missions—data collection; analysis and forecasting, tailoring/visualization for the warfighter, and dissemination. Deficiencies identified during an earlier mission needs analysis effort were mapped to the task areas and potential solutions were identified. These solutions were mapped for implementation into near-term [0-6 years], mid-term [7-15 years], and far-term [16-25 years]. The MSP would serve the weather force as the basis for modernizing AFW with a focus on improved warfighter success.
13 Oct AF/XOW nonconcurred with AWS’s position to reprioritize the overseas fielding of TPMS. AWS attempted to minimize the impact of higher overseas costs by slipping TPMS installation at overseas radar locations into later years while the government explored less costly installation methods. Brig Gen Lewis wrote, “Do not agree! The people that need it most do not get it! We need a better option.” He directed AF/XOWR to find the funds to meet the original order of installation.
15 Oct AWS was redesignated as HQ AFWA and resided at Offutt AFB, NE, and AFGWC was inactivated. Col John L. Hays became the first Commander of this renamed organization.
Figure 8-1: Martin Bomber Building (Bldg D) Offutt AFB, NE--home of newly formed Air Force Weather Agency. The smaller building was the Frady Fitness Center, It was demolished several years later.
29 Oct AFWA achieved initial operational capability of the Pennsylvania State University/National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU/NCAR) Mesoscale Model Version 5 (MM5). A single 36 kilometer window was run twice a day over both Bosnian theater and CONUS, producing cloud water forecasts every 6 hours out to 36 hours.
6 Nov AFWA conducted an FOT&E of AWDS software release 3.4.0 and Product Viewer 1.2.0 at three operational locations – Mt. Home AFB, ID, Peterson AFB, CO, and Scott AFB, IL (USTRANSCOM). The evaluation concluded the improved versions were operationally effective and suitability for worldwide fielding.
23 Nov AFWA/XPPM issued the initial program management plan for the Weather Information Processing System - Replacement (WIPS-R) program. AFWA’s processing center (previously known as AFGWC) was reliant upon a proprietary mainframe processing architecture. WIPS-R was a phased program extending over several years and would eventually result in an open-systems architecture using workstations in a client-server environment. Initially WIPS-R would replace Systems 1/4, some subsystems of Systems 5/6/A/B, and associated peripherals. In addition, it would provide the foundation for consolidation and relocation of AFWA’s Automatic Digital Weather Switch from Tinker AFB to Offutt AFB.
10 Nov ACC/CC, Gen Hawley, approved the Weather Systems Support Cadre (WSSC) Concept of Operations. The document identified operational concepts designed to resolve DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM logistics issues as well as address new logistical challenges for future deployable weather systems. The cadre consisted of communications and weather personnel assigned to two units, 3rd CCG, Tinker AFB, OK, and 5th CCG, Robins AFB, GA. The concept called for the Air Force or Army Component Senior Weather Officer to identify to the AFFOR/A6 for first-in or sustainment support of an exercise, contingency, or wartime support. When deployed, a WSSC team would initially support theater-wide deployable weather system activations. When needed WSSC members could deploy forward to an operating location and provide technical assistance weather teams as they attempt to perform operator maintenance.
1 Dec HQ USAF published Program Action Directive (PAD) 97-10, Reengineering Actions for AFW. It directed the end-to-end restructure of AFW and implemented the reengineering of weather functions in accordance with the AFW Strategic Plan.
29 Jan Automated Digital Facsimile System (ADFS) (8 locations) and AF Digital Graphics System (AFDIGS) (52 locations) terminated operations this date. ADFS and AFDIGS were being used by locations that did not receive AWDS equipment in the early 1990s. The Meteorological Information Standard Terminal (MIST) program provided these locations with a personal computer workstation capability that provided display and analysis functions for text, graphics and imagery weather products.
Figure 8-2: SSgt Craig Gaillardet attaches the lightning detector to the base unit of the AN/TMQ-53 Tactical Meteorological Observing System (TMOS). Sergeant Gaillardet, a combat weather forecaster with the 7th WS, and other members of his team conduct realistic training to optimize support to their supported US Army unit. (USAF photo by MSgt John E. Lasky)
25 Mar Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc. published a revised MIST implementation plan to address the activities required to field MIST Block 2. Block 2 replaced 182 alphanumeric [MEDS] terminals and upgraded the Block 1 workstations to Block 2 configuration. The fielding of MIST provided all CONUS weather forces similar capabilities whether they used AWDS or MIST.
31 Mar AFWA published technical note AFWA/TN-98/001 Freezing Precipitation by Eugene M. Weber. A product of 11 years of research, collecting and analyzing freezing precipitation occurrences over the continental US, it focused on the area from the Rockies to the East Coast. The intent of the study was for forecasters to recognize “setups” for freezing precipitation using model guidance. Further investigation of the air masses affecting their locations could then be looked at through Skew-Ts. Designed for the novice to identify synoptic pattern recognition favorable for freezing precipitation; it also would serve the experienced forecasters as a winter season review.
Apr The Special Operations Weather Teams (SOWT) of Detachment 2, 10th Weather Squadron, Fort Campbell, KY, served some of the most demanding military customers in the world. To meet mission requirements, Detachment 2 personnel stood ready to deploy with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). This group of dedicated weather professionals were airborne qualified and completed either an Army or AF Survival evasion Resistance and Escape course. In addition they had the opportunity to attend a wide variety of training courses, including land navigation, airborne operations, small unit tactics, and advanced marksmanship training. They honed their warfighting capabilities in exercises at the National training Center, Fort Erwin, CA and the Joint Readiness Training center, Fort Polk, LA. Det 2 had a stringent mobility commitment as personnel participated in hundreds of deployments to countries all over the world—Panama, Cuba, Guyana, Belize, Oman, Pakistan, Djibouti, Italy, Haiti, Somalia. When not deployed or involved in formal training, personnel enhanced their SOWT tactics, techniques, and procedures using the latest in deployable weather equipment.3
20 Apr AF/XOW published the AFW Reengineering Concept of Operations. The document served as a guide for commanders as AFW stood up Operational Weather Squadrons (OWS), restructured weather flights/detachments, and implemented the AFW Strategic Plan.
The tenet of reengineering was an improved organizational structure for AFW to optimize support to the warfighter. Regionally-focused OWS would eliminate the redundant execution of a separate detailed analysis and forecast process at each location possessing a weather support force. One unit within a combatant command/MAJCOM/CONUS area, the OWS, stepped through the meteorological analysis and forecast process to develop forecast products for all aerodromes, tactical training areas, intelligence evaluations, and area of operations, within that region. This provided Weather flights/detachments more time to concentrate on supported units tactics and procedures to learn and understand the effects weather had on their missions. These units then evaluated and applied forecast products to provide mission-tailored, relevant weather support for specific operations at the tactical level of operations.
29 May AFWA became the National Weather Service’s Aviation Weather Center (AWC) back-up facility after successfully completing a series of six live back-up tests. AFWA’s CONUS Severe Forecast Operations work center issued regional short-term icing, turbulence, and thunderstorm forecasts for all commercial aviation in the event the AWC was unable to produce those products.
22 Jun AFW operations began a new era this date, as the Alaskan Weather Operations Center became the first reengineered weather unit in the Air Force.
1 Jul Air Force Combat Climatology Center (AFCCC) moved from Scott AFB IL to Asheville NC. The unit moved 19 Officer, 65 Enlisted, and 25 Civilian’s, and equipment. The desired civilian level after the move would become forty.
14Sep AFWA goes “On the Air.” A new arm of the American Forces Network stood up at AFWA and began broadcasting weather information to military troops and their families. The new service was available to anyone with access to the American Forces Network.
25 Sep Col Charles W. French assumed command of AFWA from Col John L. Hayes in a change-of-command ceremony.
25 Sep AFWA/CC validated ten AFWA automated information systems compliant with Y2K guidance.
1 Oct AF ended the 37 year Operation LOOKING GLASS mission. On this date the U.S. Navy's fleet of E-6Bs replaced the EC-135C in performing the mission.4 This new mission, dubbed TACAMO [Take Charge and Move Out] allows the President and the Secretary of Defense direct command and control capability for America's strategic forces of ballistic nuclear missile submarines, intercontinental nuclear missiles and strategic bombers. If the US Strategic Command, Global Operations Center is unable to function in its role, the E-6B TACAMO can assume command of all U.S. nuclear forces. Flying aboard each ABNCP is a crew of 22, which includes an aircrew, an Information Systems Officer and team, an Airborne Emergency Action Officer (an Admiral or General officer), an Intelligence Officer, Meteorologist, and an Airborne Battle Operations Team. In addition to being able to launch ICBMs, the E-6B can communicate Emergency Action Messages (EAM) to nuclear submarines running at depth by extending a 2½-mile-long trailing wire antenna (TWA) for use with the Survivable Low Frequency Communications System (SLFCS).5
Dec Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) advanced technology development Project 2688 delivered the following capabilities to AFW during 1998: Night Vision Goggle (NVG) Operations Weather Software (NOWS) Version 4.0—this version improves flight safety by predicting changes in goggle detection ranges due to night illumination and weather; infrared target scene simulation (IRTSS) software for AF mission planning systems for planning sorties employing infrared guided munitions; Module for Coupled Ionospheric-Thermospheric Forecast Model that predicts satellite communication outages.6
31 Dec AFWA/XOOP published HQ AFWA’s Y2K Operational Contingency Plan. The Plan ensured the mission of AFWA at Offutt AFB would not be affected by unforeseen system or equipment failures that may arise as the result of potential threats associated with Y2K.
Jan The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) published its annual report on the Integrated Weather Effects Decision Aid (IWEDA). IWEDA assisted the Army commander in making intelligent command and control decisions regarding the allocation or use of weapon systems and in mission planning. IWEDA produced detailed graphic and text information regarding the what, when, why, and where of pertinent environmental impacts on 70 weapon systems (including 16 threat systems). Impacts are displayed graphically in terms of a Weather Effects Matrix (WEM) which color codes the impacts on the system(s) of interest with green (favorable), amber (marginal), and red (unfavorable) cells over time. Map overlays allowed a detailed inspection of the spatial distribution of the impacts. Fielded as part of the Army’s tactical weather system, Integrated Meteorological System (IMETS), Block II, the Staff Weather Officer at the IMETS validated input meteorological parameters before client applications could run the application.