DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — The 25th Operational Weather Squadron works 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep military aircraft flying and personnel safe.
The primary mission of the squadron is to forecast for 81 Department of Defense locations in the Western U.S. They provide support to Air Force and Army installations, as well as point locations.
“We do all the official forecasts that pilots can fly off of and we also do any special notices, weather watches, warnings and advisories,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Noah Vaughan, 25th OWS bravo flight chief.
The 25th OWS is one of six weather squadrons that are based in different locations around the world and, together, they are responsible for forecasting across the entire globe. To accomplish their mission, 25th OWS Airmen must be timely, relevant, accurate and consistent at all times.
“Timely means we are forecasting in enough time to give decision makers or operators the ability to determine when they are going to fly and what they are going to fly,” said Maj. Steven Lipinski, 25th OWS operations officer.
Airmen complete three 30-hour forecasts daily while continuously watching for approaching weather threats. The 25th OWS operations floor is divided into north, south and central sections, forecasting the weather for the Western part of the Continental U.S.
Because the squadron monitors such a wide variety of locations, it is extremely important to provide specific information that is relevant to the missions at hand.
“Our guys forecasting for these specific locations have to be very aware of the mission and what’s going on that day and how all these weather effects are going to play into mission planning,” Vaughan said. “At the end of the day we’re safety guys. We put the information out there so the decision makers and planners can integrate that bit of information into the military decision making process and operational risk management.”
Once the information is determined as relevant, Airmen must make sure that all information will be accurate for all types of missions.
“We’re also talking about missile squadrons. A lot of times they do maintenance and they will have to take the missile out of the ground and then put it onto a truck and take it back 150 miles.” said Tech. Sgt. Bradley Rector, 25th OWS NCO in charge of Southern Command operations. “You’re talking about mission watching from the location in which they’re leaving from to their arrival point and we have to be accurate all the way through.”
Airmen must also be consistent with their forecasts to ensure the success of the mission.
“You don’t just want to be accurate or relevant or timely you need to be able to repeat that success day in day out; a lot of that has to do with the great training that we do here,” said Lipinski.