AF, Navy weather shops join forces

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christine Millette
  • 40th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
The 40th Expeditionary Operational Support Squadron combat weather team completed its merger with the Naval Central Meteorology and Oceanography Detachment recently.

At the beginning of the Air and Space Expeditionary Force 7/8 rotation, officers in charge of the Air Force and Navy weather shops decided that both services would profit by combining weather efforts.

"Our biggest issue was the shortfall in manning," said 1st Lt. Richard Stedronsky, the 40th EOSS Weather Flight commander. "The Navy had just as much of a manning problem as we did, so after evaluating the logistics of combining shops, we decided that both services would benefit from a full integration."

Navy Lt. Charlotte Welsch, officer in charge of the detachment, said that while the merge seemed like a big step, it was important to provide the best product possible for everyone needing weather services.

"It has been really exciting," Welsch said. "After discussing what each shop needed to accomplish their mission, we knew that a combination of the two shops was key for mission readiness and would greatly improve quality of life for personnel in both shops."

After the decision was made to combine the two shops, Staff Sgt. Robert Lenahan, a 40th EOSS operational weather forecaster, and Petty Officer 1st Class James Derrick, the detachment leading petty officer, developed a training program to train airmen on Navy weather responsibilities and sailors on Air Force responsibilities.

"The cross training that we developed is an example for (deployed) shops to follow," Stedronsky said. "By combining shops, we stopped duplicating efforts, and the Air Force, which had minimal resource protection tools here beforehand, was able to start forecasting instead of 'nowcasting,' which really improved our customer services."

Adding the Navy equipment to its own improves the quality and the quantity of service the weather shop provides to its customers, he said.

"With the real-time radar and satellite capability, along with the additional manpower the Navy shop could provide, our capabilities were greatly increased from when there were just three of us in a closet without windows and two laptop computers," he said.

Before the integration, the minimally manned shop worked extremely long hours to provide a 24-hour operation, Welsch said.

"Now, we have enough people so that people can have more regular days off, which increases morale, and all responsibilities are being taken care of in proper priority," she said.

The forecasters here merged into one shop in three weeks, Welsch said.

"The Air Force personnel got to learn about our small craft and base responsibilities," she said, "while my people were eager to start briefing bomber and tanker wartime missions, which meant new and exciting changes for everyone."

The merger is one of the first of its kind, Stedronsky said.

"The weather community was concerned about how the two services would operate together in this forward location, considering our different responsibilities," he said. "So far, it's been extremely smooth, and we are even two weeks ahead of what we originally had planned on."

The combination will also assist in making rotation continuity smoother, Welsch said.

"I lose about one-twelfth of my working-knowledge force every month," she said, "and the Air Force switches out every three months. With the combined shop, there are more people here to keep the knowledge base strong and steady."

The knowledge gained from the merger will be an important tool for those involved to take with them, she said.

"The people who rotate through here will have a working knowledge of how the other service operates and what their mission entails, which in turn will give them an advantage in today's growing joint service environment," she said.