U.S. advisers help Iraqis kick off weather forecaster program

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jason Lake
  • 321st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Throughout the history of warfare, weather has played a crucial role in determining the outcome of major battles and, in some cases, entire military campaigns.

In the 13th Century, Mongolian invasion plans for Japan were thwarted when their armada was decimated by a massive typhoon in the Sea of Japan. Today, weather still plays a major role in military operations and planning.

For this reason, Air Force weather advisers have been building up the initial cadre of Iraqi air force weather forecasters over the past three years. The training entered a new chapter of self-sufficiency last month when IqAF's cadre began teaching 18 new cadets at the Iraqi air force's weather center in Baghdad.

"The instructor has taught the whole course by himself. This is an important step to Iraqi autonomy," said Capt. Debbie Swetland, the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission - Air, senior weather adviser. "(The cadets0 are learning how to exploit the weather to the best of their ability by tailoring forecasts based on specific mission needs. This will help the Iraqi air force get planes in the air, keep them in the air, and ensure personnel and resources are protected while maintaining air sovereignty."

The six-month course covers weather observation and forecast techniques, satellite systems, atmospheric dynamics, regime-based forecasting and basic equipment set-up, tear-down and maintenance.

"This is the first Iraqi-led military weather school since the fall of Saddam," Captain Swetland said. "They have not had an active weather program here since 1991. They have had weather forecasters since then, but they weren't always used for forecasting weather ... mostly remedial jobs like working in the chow hall."

The class of cadets is expected to graduate from the Iraqi-led course this fall, course officials said. After the cadets graduate, they'll return to the Iraqi air force academy for several months before receiving their commissions and first duty assignments.