Air Force weather leaders gather at Camp Blanding
STARKE, Fla. (July 1, 2011) – Leaders from across the Air Force weather career field met up at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center recently to discuss present operations and the future of the weather career field.
“We need to make sure we’re supporting the Airmen that are downrange and giving them the right training and tactical skills so they can do the job,” said Dr. Fred P. Lewis, the Director of Weather for the U.S. Air Force.
Camp Blanding is home to the National Guard’s Weather Readiness Training Center (WRTC) and the 159th Weather Flight. The WRTC trains National Guard weather Airmen and conducts Battlefield Weather Mission Qualification Training in conjunction with infantry instructors from the state’s Regional Training Institute for Airmen who deploy with Army units.
“The Air Force leadership gets to see the training firsthand,” said Maj. John Waltbillig, the Commandant of the WRTC. “They get to see what hasn’t ever been done before. We’ve all deployed with Army customers before, but we’ve never had the training that the typical Soldier gets.”
The 30-day course provides the Airmen with five days of tactical meteorology training taught by the weather instructors and three weeks of intensive tactical training taught by Army infantry instructors. The Airmen are familiarized with tactical driving, weapons systems and tactical movement.
“The training is focused on what we need,” said Lewis. “We need combat skills and we need to practice our tactical weather skills at the same time. That’s what we do – we provide weather support on the battlefield for the Army and Air Force.”
Individuals in the weather career field collect, analyze, tailor, integrate and disseminate weather and space environmental information in support of military operations. Air Force weathermen deploy with both Air Force and Army units and must be prepared to operate as part of the unit they are attached to.
According to Waltbillig, the training is important to ensuring that the Airmen are able to take care of themselves and not be a liability to their Army brethren. A close relationship between Florida National Guard leadership and senior Air Force weather leadership, as well as positive feedback from Airmen in the field, is important to the continued success of the course.
“I would say that every person involved with the Battlefield Weather Mission Qualification Training has seen the value of the training,” said Waltbillig. “They’ve all been in situations or know someone who’s been in situations where they wish they would have known how to be a co-driver or man the mounted weaponry or be a navigator.”