Chapter 8: chronology 1997-2006

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8 Aug AFCWC published an AN/TMQ-53 IR Signature Assessment in response to a 16 Jul 02 request from ACC/DOW. In an ACC IG visit to the 113th Weather Flight, Terry Haute, IN, the IG team discovered the TMQ-53’s transmissometer had a large IR light signature.33 AFCWC’s assessment confirmed the magnitude of the signature, its impact, and recommended corrective measures to minimize or eliminate some of the IR signatures. 34
23 Aug DoD, NOAA, and NASA announced the award of a $4.5 billion contract to TRW Inc. of Redondo Beach, CA [later absorbed by Northrop Grumman], to build and deploy the nation’s future polar-orbiting, environmental satellite system. The contract was for the Acquisition and Operations phases of NPOESS. NPOESS combined the nation’s military [DMSP] and civilian polar environmental satellite programs into a single national system that would significantly improve weather forecasting and climate prediction. First launch was scheduled for 2009.
12 Sep AFWA’s communications and computer directorate (SC) identified a deliberate intrusion into AFWA’s data processing network. AF Computer Emergency Response Team (AFCERT) revealed that a questionable internet protocol (IP) address was trying to get into several military networks. AFWA’s network operations continued to block the intruder and prevented access to any of AFWA’s data. AFWA/SC reported, “It is not terribly unusual to have such a cyber-attack on our network….”
30 Sep The Space Weather Analysis and Forecast System (SWAFS) initial operational capability (IOC) was achieved. SWAFS’ Initial Spiral was a 33-month effort (FY00-02) that consisted of re-hosting eight threads, from the 55th SWXS, of operational software with enhancements (180K source lines of code) at a cost of $16.5M, the purchase of $1M in hardware, integrating capability into the AFWA processing environment, and the transfer of three communications circuits. Completion of the initial spiral enabled the closure of 55th SWXS.
15 Oct The Three-dimensional Variational Data Assimilation (3DVAR) was implemented to provide AFWA an advanced observation integration method that significantly improved forecast model accuracy. The 3DVAR processed nearly 4 times the amount of data than the previous method and included 21 various types of data.
10 Nov The improved Target Acquisition Weapons Software (TAWS) was integrated into mission planning cell of the Air Operations Center (AOC). The new TAWS (a combination of TAWS and Night Vision Goggle Operations Weather Software (NOWS)) provided the integrated “team of Ops, Intel, and Weather” a cross-feed of information that could significantly improve mission planning and execution of the daily air tasking order.

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Figure-8-9: AFWA’s unclassified production branch issued last “person-in-the-loop” weather forecast. TSgt Chris Lee (top), Strategic Weather Section NCOIC and SSgt Jan Burciaga, weather technician, discuss the last product the section issued, after a 46-year mission at AFWA.
Jan – Feb Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment (C/1-319 AFAR) used AFWA’s Interactive Gridded Analysis and Display System (iGRADS), available on JAAWIN, to overcome weather-induced range errors affecting the fire direction center computed range by as much as 500 meters. Normally, an AFAR battery would have available real-time radiosonde information from a division artillery meteorology team (Met). The use of AFWA products allowed the Army to reduce their deployment footprint by not deploying their Met teams to Afghanistan.
15 Jan AFWA’s unclassified production branch issued their last weather forecast—end of an era! The Continental United States (CONUS) Severe Weather and the Strategic Weather Sections ceased operations. For the past 34 years, CONUS Severe provided Point Weather Warnings (PWW) for as many as 400 locations. PWWs provided an early warning of upcoming severe weather, so officials could take the proper steps to protect people and property. The Strategic Weather Section provided upper-level flight hazards for essentially the entire world for the last 46 years. The section had issued 620,865 forecasts during this period. This kind of tailored regional weather support would now be provided by Operational Weather Squadrons (OWS) located around the world. The transfer of functions performed by this branch was a planned part of AFW transformation begun in 1998 as AFW Re-engineering.
19 Feb AFWA implemented the diagnostic cloud forecast model (DCF) using numerical weather prediction MM5 forecast parameters. Model output products of cloud cover over target areas were used by TAWS to improve air strike mission planning.
20 Feb AFCCC, located in Ashville, NC, and 28 OWS located in Sumter, SC, assisted in the planning of military operations in Iraq. Lt Col Tom Frooninckx, 28 OWS/CC, was quoted as saying, “I always say weather forecasters are domino pushers. We start a chain of events, of decision making, which leads to events and operations. The decision could be something as big as ‘All units start the war tomorrow,’ or deciding whether we put snow blades on our vehicles.” AFW had been in “high gear” since 11 Sep 2001, and was now operating “with even more intensity as the possibility builds of war with Iraq.”
Mar Air University Press published Air War College Maxwell Paper No. 29, Weather Operations in the Transformation Era, by Col John M. Lanicci. The document would guide the near-term activities across AFW as the AF implemented major transformational changes. In the forward, MGen Bentley B. Rayburn, AWC/CC stated:

“[Col Lanicci outlined]…changes in a concept called weather, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (WISR), a term first used by the Air Staff to describe the total integration of natural and man-made environments for predictive battlespace awareness (PBA). The WISR concept [was] based on substantially increasing the volume of weather data collected in theater by using the same airborne assets being proposed for PBA, persistent ISR, and time-critical targeting. It [WISR concept] proposes the creation of a four-dimensional database that can be used to integrate the natural environment into the common operating picture.35

Mar Several months before the start of major military action for OIF, U.S. special operations forces operated clandestinely throughout the northern and central portions of Iraq. Two AFSOC CWT Airmen, SSgt “Dusty” Lee and SSgt Dave Mack, were instrumental in providing critical weather support during this period.

SSgt Lee was in northeastern Iraq, near the Iranian border for the purpose of conducting chemical downwind messaging in the event the Iraqis decided to use chemical warfare against U.S. and coalition forces. Additionally, he conducted forward weather observing operations to collect environmental data in the data sparse region. The data was critical to enabling the close air support assets supporting Special Forces elements from the 10th Special Forces Group that were linked up with the Peshmerga (armed Kurdish fighters), who were fighting Saddam Hussein’s forces. SSgt Lee’s element was involved in heavy fighting on at least six separate occasions during these series of engagements.36

SSgt Mack was attached to an Army Special Forces ground team and flew into south central Iraq and then traveled across the country with the team. Mack provided weather observations in the initial phases of the war. When Mack’s team moved toward Baghdad, he provided weather observations for Baghdad Airport until conventional forces arrived. Mack provided observations back to the staff weather officer, Maj Randall Kallenbach, of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in western Iraq, via satellite phone every three hours. The observations were then relayed to other AFW resources for inclusion into classified weather data bases.37

17 Mar The Infrared Target-Scene Simulation Software (IRTSS) was delivered in time for use during the initial stages of OIF combat operations. An F-117 pilot remarked, “IRTSS is a fantastic tool and if anyone doesn’t use it [before the mission], they’re stupid.” IRTSS provided the capability to generate ‘through-the-sensor’ target scene predictions in the thermal IR waveband. As the system accounted for target area geography, mission tactics, weather, time of day, and sensor characteristics, it allowed aircrews to fly-through the target area scene prior to the actual mission. AFWA provided the various weather elements that contributed to the target scene definition. AF/XOW believed IRTSS was one of several success stories in OIF. The IRTSS technology proved to be a valuable tool for increasing aircrew situational awareness during the air campaign. IRTSS was managed as part of AFWWS War Weather by ESC/ACW with user representation provided by Col Mary Lockhart, IMA to AF/XOW, Mr. Leandro Delgado, contractor in AFWA/XPF, and Lt Col Brian Patterson, Air National Guard F-16 pilot.
19 Mar D-Day - OIF war begins.38

Figure-8-11: “The Observation” – As allied forces marched towards Bagdad they encountered a massive dust storm. An AN/TMQ-53 installed, on top of a SICPS equipped HMMWV, measured weather elements during the storm.

Figure-8-10: “The Forecast” – 22 Mar 2003 Joint Operations Area Forecast (JOAF) valid for 26 Mar 2003 depicts visibilities less than 1 mile caused by sandstorm covering central Iraq.
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26 Mar Aircrews of the Air Mobility Command, flying fifteen C-17 Globemaster IIIs, successfully completed a nighttime airdrop of approximately 1,000 “Sky Soldiers” from the 173rd Airborne Brigade behind enemy lines into Northern Iraq. It was the largest combat airdrop since the invasion of Panama in December 1989 for Operation JUST CAUSE and a first for the C-17.The objective was to secure Bashur airfield and prepare it for the follow-on airland operation of the remaining portion of the brigade over the next 4 days.39 Weather support was key to this successful operation.

Capt John Roberts was the staff weather officer to the 173rd and was responsible for providing the mission execution forecast. In coordination with AFWA’s Special Operations Weather Operation Center (SOFWOC), 28th OWS, USAFE OWS, and the Central Command Joint Operations Center they issued planning information several days in advance. In the meantime, SSgt Tom Dishon, an AFSOC CWT Airman, along with a 6-man combat reconnaissance patrol was covertly inserted and tasked to establish the Landing Zone for the 173rd. SSgt Dishon prepared surface weather observations and provided limited-data forecasting.40

Based on discussions with his combined team, Capt Roberts initially advised postponing the airdrop for a day because an intense low pressure system was impacting the area of operations creating high winds, low ceilings and visibility with snow. Delay was not an option. The political situation dictated the troops needed to be on the ground on the 26th. Capt Roberts with assistance from Lou Riva, an AFWA civilian working at the SOFWOC, and other meteorologists pored over satellite images, surface weather observations, and weather model data to identify a favorable period to execute the mission. They were all in agreement. There appeared to be a very tiny window of opportunity. They identified a break in the cloud formation that would provide a 2-hour window of opportunity the paratroopers could use to get into Bashur.41

Twelve hours out, Capt Roberts made the call, unfavorable conditions except for a 2-hour period, and the men and their equipment were packed for the jump. They took off from Aviano AB, Italy for the four-hour trip to Iraq, Roberts stayed behind to monitor the mission.

In an interview with the AFWA historian, Capt Roberts related the final moments:

The final weather decision at the 2 hour mark the people on the ground said, weather conditions don’t permit, we recommend you cancel the mission.’ At which point my heart fell down to my feet, I jumped on the radio [speaking to the pilot in the lead aircraft], I said,’ disregard the comment on the ground’ cause I found out the guys on the ground were great but all they had was a [Kestrel] 4000 and a radio. [They] didn’t have any laser range or night vision equipment. So they really didn’t have a good estimate on the clouds. And also I could see on the satellite that it was starting to break up so I said, ‘sir you now have 2 hours left for your flight, by the time you get there, keep flying when you get there it will clear by the time you get there.’ So the aircraft kept flying and the generals sitting next to me when I said that….and then the snow stopped at about 30 minutes prior to the time to target the last observation, cause 20 minutes out they were going to go to radio silence just for safety, in the last ob he said, 800 and a half and I was like oh no there’s a good chance that it wasn’t going to clear out when the aircraft got there and the aircraft couldn’t loop around like when they got there they had one shot and then they’d have to come back home and then right then they said oh wait hold on a second and they said, the guys on the ground told me later right about 30 minutes out they looked up and they saw a couple stars and they knew it was starting to break up and they said ah broken and once it started to break and that convergence zone kinda came through and it was fairly windy on the ground it wasn’t above the jump it was about 10-12 knots it lifted up the ceilings and they said it’s up to about 2000 and we can see 3 miles. And then radio silence so waiting, waiting, wait. Longest 20 minutes of my life. The guy on the ground comes back on, I spot the first aircraft, I count 20 something yeah he counted how many sheets he sees. So it was like boom I was like whew I was relieved. Now you know that their jumping and that it was a success.42

31 Mar AF/XOW defined the AFW requirements process in response to changes to the Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 3170. AFW requirements were divided into several distinct categories—near term operational requirements; requirements that generate capability development, modifications, to existing capabilities, AFW funding commitments, and/or manpower needs; and finally emerging contingency requirements generated by imminent or currently on-going operations. The first category was not affected by the new policy and would continue to be addressed by the appropriate OWS and/or AFWA as long as they can be met using existing capabilities. The other two would be addressed by the new process that generated an integrated priority listing (IPL). An AFW Requirements Oversight Council was established to recommend an IPL for AF/XOW’s approval. The new process was used for the first time to baseline the FY04 AFW program.43c:\users\george\pictures\75th afw pics\1997-06\030530 moretto.png

Figure 8-12: SSgt. Julie Moretto answers questions by members of Iraq’s meteorological organization. (USAF photo by 2nd Lt. Rebecca R. Garland)
1 Apr The New York Times published an article characterizing the meteorological support that led to the accurate prediction of a “potent” dust storm that affected operations 5 days into the start of OIF hostilities. 28th OWS provided 5 days of advanced notice to commanders who were able to adjust battle plans and take advantage of the blinding conditions.
3 Apr Elements of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) captured portions of the Saddam International Airport. SSgt Julie Moretto, a weather technician with the 15th ASOS while attached to the Tactical Assault Center, was the first conventional AFW person to arrive in Baghdad. She remarked, “That was the closest any of us had been to the frontline….We were welcomed to the newly named Baghdad International Airport under continuous fire.”44 However, a day or so earlier, the first surface weather observation under KQTZ [the “KQ” identifier assigned to Baghdad Airport] was taken by SSgt Dave Mack, a special tactics weather person attached with Special Forces Operational Detachment—Alpha 583, from the south end of the runway.45
23 Apr AFWA briefed the Product Tailoring Warfighter Applications (PTWA) Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) (Level III) to AF/XOW in order to update the Forecast System 21st Century (FS-21) Operational Requirements Document (ORD). The briefing addressed various alternative solutions, reviewed the pros and cons of each, assessed their risk, and concluded the combination of N-TFS and Horace [a UK Met Office developed weather application] would be a material solution that could meet AFW’s vision.
1 May Ramey Solar Observatory’s AN/FMQ-7 Solar Optical Telescope “terminated” operation at 1200Z/0800L. Capt Tersigni, the last Commander of Detachment (Det) 3, ordered the final “stowing” of the telescope’s objective lens. After nearly 37 years of conducting “solar patrol” as part of AFW’s Solar Optical Observing Network, AFWA was inactivating Det 3. Col Wendell T. Stapler, AFWA/XO, was the presiding officer for the ceremonies. Actual inactivation would not be complete until 1 October 2003.
5 May Harris Corporation of Melbourne, FL, provided AFW 100 First-In Weather Systems (FinWS) some of which were used during the initial hostilities of OIF. The system allowed combat weather airman to receive current weather data on laptops using digital radio antenna that weighed less than five pounds. Weather products were generated at AFWA and the 28th OWS and then transmitted to one of two commercial satellites that were part of the WorldSpace satellite radio network, covering Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe for relay to a FinWS located within a given area of responsibility (AOR).
15 May HQ Air Force inserted AFWA’s new building project into the Future Year Defense Plan (FYDP) as a place holder for FY08.
6 Jun AFWA assisted the 447th Air Expeditionary Group with equipment and training plans so weather technicians could provide training to Iraqi Meteorological Organization (IMO) personnel. This training allowed the Iraqis to effectively operate and maintain the meteorological measuring equipment installed at Baghdad Airport during the war.
24 Jun AF Historical Research Agency published “Weather in Air Campaigns, 1990 – 2003.” The study concluded that AFW’s reengineering efforts in the late 1990s created a new structure that provided centralized weather data facilities at the strategic level, a set of operational weather squadrons as “hubs” at the operational level, and combat weather teams at the tactical level. This new structure proved to be more effective during OEF and OIF than AFW organizations in earlier operations.46

Figure-8-13: A C-17 Globemaster III touches down at McCord AFB, WA as the AN/FMQ-19 Automatic Meteorological Station creates an automated surface weather observation. Located near the touchdown point of the runway, primary sensors visible are, from left, precipitation, lightning detection, cloud height, combined visibility/present weather, and wind direction/speed [atop the 10 meter mast].
30 Jun AFWA prepared and AF/XOWP approved the AFW Weather Station Certification and AN/FMQ-19 Automatic Meteorological Station (AMS) Commissioning Plan. Weather station certification was mandated by Federal Meteorological Handbook-1 (FMH-1) whenever there was a major change to station operations. For nearly 6647 years, AFW personnel had been taking, recording, and disseminating surface weather observations manually at weather stations around the globe. With the fielding of the FMQ-19, that process would be automated, except for weather person augmentation/backup and quality control. The plan identified the essential elements of the certification process: proper site selection of equipment; certification of weather observers; existence of adequate operation, augmentation, and backup procedures; and establishment of an effective quality control program. AFWA and gaining units used the plan to certify AFW weather stations after the contractor installed an FMQ-19.c:\users\george\pictures\75th afw pics\1997-06\fmq-19 2003-3.jpg
Sep AFWA’s FY03 Capital Equipment Replacement Program (CERP) celebrated a 3-year lifecycle milestone with the replacement of its core server components. More than simply a one-for-one replacement, this year’s effort consolidated services through a first-time use of Network Attached Storage (NAS) and a common high-speed tape backup device. The fully integrated enclave eliminated expensive, stand-alone storage arrays and drives and reduced the number of operating system and application licenses used to provide core administrative services to the agency. CERP also replaced 26 percent of the microcomputers and peripherals in AFWA. Peripheral components include scanners, printers, trackballs, and monitors. This year marked the third consecutive year that the program had met or exceeded its goal of replacing from between 25 to 33 percent of agency desktop components at a cost of $493,000.00. c:\users\george\pictures\75th afw pics\1997-06\050701-f-1215w-001.jpg

Figure--14: SSgt Jay Sablan, AFWA Communications Directorate, Network Systems Administrator, replaces a failed hard drive on an AFWA server.
30 Sep A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to inaugurate a data exchange between AFWA and the British Royal Navy’s Fleet Weather and Oceanographic Center (FWOC). The new communications platform provided the FWOC meteorologists with up-to-the-minute Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) data.
18 Oct DMSP launched F16 from Vandenberg, and AFWA performed early orbit support for 30 days. On 18 Nov, Col. Randy Odle, DMSP program director, transferred Satellite Control Authority (SCA) to Mr. Bruce Needham, Associate Director of Operations, NPOESS IPO, and he delegated F16 command authority to Suitland National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service Office of Satellite Operations (NESDIS/OSO)
27 Oct AFWA space weather operations center personnel classified a solar flare detected by the Solar X-ray Imager as the third largest solar event in recorded history. As an aside, the solar spot group was the largest recorded in the current solar cycle. The center had issued more than 300 warnings of possible problems to DoD officials since 19 Oct.
10 Nov AF/XOW published lessons learned for OIF. Gen Stickford stated, “Overall, I am very pleased with the success of our weather warriors during OIF. This report and the testimonials from field commanders confirm how well AFW performed its primary mission....” He provided his expectations to the AFW community that the report “be used actively as a guidebook to shape future policies and initiatives within the career field, not relegated to the history shelf.” The information was used to form the basis of the AFW “story” as it was rolled into the overall Air Force after action report on OIF.

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