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Air Force Weather

 


What's in a Name?

THE AIR FORCE WEATHER AGENCY--A QUICK LOOK AT THE FUTURE                      By BGen Fred P. Lewis          Hq USAF Director of Weather  

                 
                 In past Observer articles, we have focused on some of the fundamentals needed to ensure our reengineering efforts succeed.  Simply put, our organization must evolve to focus the right number of people with the right level of experience on our customers' requirements--that is, highly-accurate, timely, fine-scale, relevant weather information.  Since we began our reengineering efforts nearly a year ago, our vision has not changed appreciably. We must continue to work each and every day to become: 

The Operators/Warfighters Choice for Air and Space Weather Information on Demand for Global Engagement; Providing the Knowledge Needed to Own the Weather.  Our road toward this vision has been very productive, but like any worthwhile endeavor, it has involved a lot of hard work from many of you.  We have called on many of you for your expertise and innovative thinking.  Your efforts paid real dividends when, in June, we briefed the senior commanders of the Air Force on our proposed changes.  Thanks to your hard work, often with short suspenses, our detailed planning efforts have met with solid success.  Air Force senior leaders support what we are doing to improve our functional area--as was demonstrated by our AFW Strategic Plan being approved on 18 Aug 97 by AF/CV!
     With that in mind, it's time to begin implementing our plans.  One of our first changes will occur on 15 October 1997, when we will stand up the new Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.  But the AFWA really won't be so new, it will be formed by redesignating Air Weather Service (AWS) and thus will carry all of AWS's heritage.  It will combine today's AWS and Air Force Global Weather Center (AFGWC) into a single, operations-focused, Field Operating Agency (FOA) with Colonel Jack Hayes being its first commander.                         
     So why are we changing the name and location of our FOA?  The AFWA will fulfill many of the fundamentals we have discussed in previous articles.  Since AFW changed in 1991, we have spread our talented people within the FOA too thin by maint aining the FOA Headquarters (AWS) as a separate and distinct entity from its largest production center.  We can no longer afford to maintain that old paradigm-- it is time for a change.  By combining, redefining, and streamlining the roles of the Air Weather Service and Air Force Global Weather Center, we will reduce management overhead and eliminate duplication while putting more experts at the center of the action--the premier Strategic Center for our reengineered Air Force Weather--the AF Weather Agency.       
     By concentrating our talented experts together in one organization, the AFWA, we will achieve a synergy that will allow us to achieve more of an end-to-end, operations focus in our support functions and better deal with officer to enlisted conversions that will occur through FY00.  The new AFWA can be more customer focused as it aligns itself with the primary source of our weather data collection and weather products.  This will directly result in improved operational support for our MAJCOM and other important customers--the main reason why we are reengineering!

        
     How will the new AFWA be organized?  Right now the final touches are being coordinated at all levels, but the organization will consist of the two other external centers, a command staff, and four internal directorates.  The high-level organizational structure is reflected in the wiring diagram below. (Only in source magazine)   Besides the AFWA, Colonel Hayes will direct two strategic centers:  the AF Combat Climatology Center (AFCCC);  and the AF Combat Weather Center (AFCWC) at Hurlburt Field, Florida.  As you probably already know, AFCCC is moving from Scott AFB to Asheville, North Carolina to combine with AFCCC OL-A and be collocated with the National Climatic Data Center.                               
     The heart of AFWA will be the four directorates.  Each will be under the direction of a colonel and all will ultimately be located at Offutt AFB as we form the AFWA over the next 2 years

   The Operations Directorate (XO) will oversee AFWA weather operations.  I will manage the scheduling and production of highly accurate, worldwide, mission-tailored weather products 24-hours-a-day to meet the requirements of the National Command Authorities, DoD, Unified Commands, Joint Operations,  the Air Force and the Army, and other SECAF-directed programs.  It will assist AF/XOW and the MAJCOMs in establishing AFW observing and forecasting procedures and standards.  AFWA/XO will also assist AF/XOW and the MAJCOMs by consolidating AFW operational requirements.

   The Air and Space Sciences Directorate (DN) will be the focal point for developing improved methods, processes, and tools to help do the job;  managing the training of our all of our weather people; and maintaining the quality of our worldwide weather support by exploiting applied meteorological/geophysical techniques and visualizations. AFWA/DN, working closely with the schoolhouse at Keesler AFB and MAJCOMs, will help standardize and centrally produce on-the-job-training (OJT) programs.  It will also assist AF/XOW, AETC, and the other MAJCOMs in working and coordinating all AFW training issues.  It will also direct operational air and space science activities to improve the weather support capabilities and operations based on the newest techniques, products, and visualizations.

   The Communications and Computer Systems Directorate (SC) will be responsible for the critical communications and computer processing technology that makes AFW work.  We will depend on this group to coordinate the communications and computer technology for AFW.  They will be responsible for coordinating weather communications programs with Air Force, Army, Joint, DoD, and MAJCOM agencies.  AFWA/SC will also be responsible for weather computer hardware operations and software development.

   The Plans and Programs Directorate (XP) will look to the future as AFW moves forward.  The mission for this directorate will be to assist AF/XOW and the MAJCOMs in planning and executing programs to acquire, field, and sustain capabilities for all of AFW.  It will assist AF/XOW and the MAJCOMs in providing guidance on new systems and software by keeping the user's requirements in focus. Finally, through the long-range, strategic planning process, AFWA/XP will assist AF/XOW and the MAJCOMs in analyzing mission support shortfalls in order to ensure we are on target to meet our customers' future needs.

   Each component of the new Air Force Weather Agency is necessary to assist the MAJCOMs and AF/XOW in providing critical weather information, training, systems, and future development as we take the next step towards being the operators' choice for weather information, allowing them to fully exploit the air and space environment.

   As always, I invite your comments and suggestions as we move forward.  While we continue to work together to build the best military weather capability in the world, forming the AFWA is one of those very important steps to making this a reality.  It's time for us to continue to steadily move towards a new way of doing business in AFW.  It's time to stand-up the Air Force Weather Agency and on 15 October, we will do just that so our operators can OWN THE WEATHER!            


By-Line:
                 
WHAT'S IN A NAME?                                            
                 
by MajGen (Ret) John W. Collens                              
AWS/CC 1974-75                                               
                 
     Air Weather Service (AWS) is to become the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA).  Some may moan the loss of a name that has endured since 13 March 1946.  Grieve not, my fellow weather service associates; the AWS name has been a misnomer for sometime, but most important, Air Weather Service's fine heritage and tradition will continue forward in the new AFWA.  That's right, AWS will not really stand down, it will be redesignated as the AF Weather Agency on 15 October 1997. Let me explain.

    In 1991 AWS changed significantly when much of the "Service" part of the organization was moved under direct supervision of the operational and/or airbase Wings and the MAJCOMs.  At that time AWS really became what we now call Air Force Weather--the total support structure needed to provide the Air Force, Army, other DoD agencies the air and space weather and climatological support they require. 

     So, what's in a name?  The reality is that AWS is already an Air Force weather agency--since it supports all of AF Weather as they conduct their daily air and space weather missions.  So the name, Air Force Weather Agency, is very descriptive of what today's AWS has become--so why not change the name to be more reflective of the mission?        
     Consider these perspectives from the past and the present.  AWS was providing space environment support over 30 years ago.  There were proposals in the 1970s to change the name of AWS to Aerospace Environment Service or other such connotations.  Today, weather people are integral to the AF Space Command, much as they are in the airbase wings. Read the August 1997 issue of Air Force Association magazine's article, "The Rise of Space".  General Estes, CincSpaceCom, is quoted therein and suggests the word "space" maybe in the future title of the Air Force.
     So what's in a name?                                    

From Air Weather Service OBSERVER Magazine, Aug 1997

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