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Weather Agency Provides Edge To Warfighters

Bad weather can disable a Global Positioning System unit or cause low visibility for an aircraft mission.
by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
Air Force News Agency
Offutt AFB NE (AFPN) Aug 15, 2008
Today's warfighters are constantly looking for any combat advantage that they can gain on their enemies.

One factor that can be the difference between a failed mission and a successful one is the weather. Bad weather can disable a Global Positioning System unit or cause low visibility for an aircraft mission.

Airmen at the Air Force Weather Agency here work around the clock to provide warfighters globally the information they need to best complete their mission.

Staff Sgt. Kelly Miller, a space weather forecaster, uses a complex series of programs and satellites to monitor the sun. She interprets the information and then simplifies and tailors it for her warfighter customers. Radiation from the sun can cause communications satellites to work erratically. With her help, satellite operators can reposition the satellites so that they are more effective.

She said that her job is very challenging and she finds it rewarding to play such a pivotal role in the war on terrorism.

"This job keeps me on my toes," Sergeant Miller said. "It's a new science and there is something new to learn everyday. The sun is always shining somewhere so we are busy 24/7."

Lt. Col. Marvin Treu is the commander of the 2nd Weather Squadron in the weather agency. He said that people in his squadron have to take a proactive approach in disseminating information to their warfighter customers. He said battlefield commanders need the information days in advance to properly plan their missions.

"Sometimes it takes a special effort to get out there and see what your warfighter is confronted with," Colonel Treu said.

Colonel Treu said that weather agency personnel are often communicating directly with warfighters using numerous different communication methods. Battlefield Airmen are also able to reach back to weather agency technicians for instant information about their weather situation.

He said one of their main challenges is that they provide information in many different security classifications. He said this is made possible by the caliber of people who work at the agency.

"We have some of the sharpest people in the Air Force," he said. "They must be technically solid and be able to interpret data from leading edge satellite systems."

Colonel Treu said that weather agency people keep in their thoughts ways to improve the odds for warfighters every day.

Sergeant Miller said that all her effort seems worthwhile when she thinks about the end users of her products.

"I know everything I do helps the success of aircraft and troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan," she said. "There is no more important job I could do."

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