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Air Force Weather


Supporting AFW Reengineering

by Col Charles W. French, AFWA Commander

     In the midst of our third year as the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA; headquartered at Offutt AFB, Nebraska) and of providing support to Air Force Weather reengineering, we continue to move closer to reaching the goal of a smarter, leaner, more efficient weather force. Many initiatives are taking place this year at AFWA that will bring AFW closer to completing the reengineering goals.

    AFWA is developing new systems and programs to optimize weather support to the warfighters.  One system that is fundamentally essential to AFW reengineering is the Operational Weather Squadron Production System, Phase II, or OPS-II.  The OPS-II is the central forecast production system for our nine regional operational weather squadrons. The program integrates commercial hardware and software products into one efficient forecast system. Once installed, the OWS is able to declare initial operational capability and begin providing around-the-clock weather support to its area of responsibility. 

    Another system currently in development at AFWA is the Automated Observing System, or AOS.  This system collects existing sensor digital data output from multiple environmental parameters — pressure, temperature, winds, clouds, etc., — and integrates the sensor data into one user-friendly display. This integrated output is transmitted to the responsible OWS for near-continuous monitoring of weather conditions at remote locations.  The AOS is currently fielded at 50 locations worldwide, with another 80 locations scheduled to receive AOS this year.  The AOS gives OWS the ability to monitor environmental conditions, in near real-time, at remote locations — airfields, ranges, and missile alert facilities. In particular, AOS assists OWSs in executing resource protection responsibilities at remote-locations during non-duty hours.

    Not only are we developing new systems, our weather support mission has also expanded. AFWA assumed responsibility of the 55th Space Weather Squadron in October of last year. During the next year, the mission of providing space weather analyses and forecasts will transfer (back) from 55 SWXS to HQ AFWA.  The mission transfer will take place in six phases, in which HQ AFWA takes on more responsibility (i.e., more production) with each phase.  The first phase begins in June 2000, and the transfer is scheduled for completion by July 2001.  This effort is part of the AFW Reengineering effort in which HQ AFWA serves as a strategic center for weather services, providing operational weather squadrons, combat weather teams, and other Department of Defense customers a complete suite of weather support products. Integrating space weather operations into AFWA will allow a single strategic center to provide customers with the integrated "mud to the sun" characterization of the atmosphere.

    The AFWA is fundamentally involved in the concepts for Air Force Weather.  The development, coordination and integration of these various concepts will be crucial to our success in the future.  Recently, AFWA hosted meetings and participated in the AFW Policy and Procedures Internal Process Team.  The team drafted and finalized the Reengineered AFW Support Concept of Operations and suggested conceptual changes for the AFW Executive Council’s review/approval.  The CONOPS is the framework execution of the mission.  It describes the basis for development of AF guidance (AFW publications), organizational alignment, AFW career progression, technology, and training (including initial skills, on the job training, career development courses, and recurring training) for reengineered AFW operations.  The objectives of the CONOPS are to focus operations on customer mission requirements, improve training and readiness, and achieve the greatest efficiencies and effectiveness possible. 

    AFWA has also reengineered the AFW Standardization and Evaluation Program to place the responsibility for evaluating Weather Flights/ Detachments with the major commands, and the responsibility of evaluating OWSs and AFW Strategic Centers with AFWA. We're developing new checklists, Standard Approach For Evaluators (SAFE) Lists, and check rides, based upon the new AF instructions. Since January, we've accompanied the MAJCOMs on eight evaluation visits.

     AFWA continues to pursue every avenue to optimize the successful reengineering of Air Force Weather. Our airmen continue to perform their worldwide mission with great pride and professionalism. It is their great motivation and enthusiasm that are making reengineering a success —critical to the future of Air Force Weather. 

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