by AFWA Staff Report
Air Force Weather Agency Public Affairs
5/25/2006 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The stage is set for big changes in Air Force weather forecasting across the United States. By aligning stateside weather operations with the Air Force warfighting initiative, Air Force weather is creating a more efficient and effective organizational structure to support the mission and the warfighter.
The realignment began with the reactivation of the 1st Weather Group, at Offutt AFB, Neb., May 25. The 1st WXG continues its long and decorated history of providing weather products and service to Air Force and Army units, and is now part of the Air Force Weather Agency.
The newly reactivated group increases the Agency's worldwide organizational force to more than 1,400 professionals. The new group commander, Col. Tom Frooninckx, will oversee the Operational Weather Squadrons located at four Air Force bases - the 9th OWS at Shaw AFB, S.C., the15th OWS at Scott AFB, Ill.; the 25th OWS at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.; and the 26th OWS at Barksdale AFB, La.
"The organizational change is seamless to the warfighter and to all military units requiring weather information - they will continue to receive complete environmental situational awareness. The real improvement is achieved by aligning stateside weather operations consistent with the Air Force's Warfighting Headquarters initiative and creating a more efficient and effective organizational structure. We are not changing what we do - we are changing how we do it," said Colonel Frooninckx.
The 15th Operational Weather Squadron, Scott AFB, Ill., was the first of the four OWSs to re-align under the newly formed 1st WXG during a ceremony May 25. The 26th OWS was realigned at Barksdale AFB, Jun. 22. Next, was the 25th OWS at Davis-Monthan on July 6, and the last addition to the team was the 9th OWS which was re-activated on Jul. 20 at Shaw AFB.
Each of the four squadrons produces forecasts for a specified area of the United States and some overseas locations; the overseas mission will not transfer to the 1st WXG, but remain aligned under the warfighting headquarters at each base. The squadrons also serve as training hubs for new weather professionals - both enlisted and officers. Most of the graduates from the initial skills course at Keesler AFB, Miss., serve their first operational tour at an OWS. There, they receive on-the-job training from experienced weather specialists while they complete the Career Development Course required for upgrade to journeyman status.
"It will be our job to arm our weather professionals with the training and skills necessary to deliver environmental intelligence for commanders and military decision makers." Chief Fries said. "With all the stateside OWSs under the 1st Weather Group, we can take that first step down the road to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of weather operations for the total force."
The 1st Weather Group has a long and proud heritage starting as the Far East Air Forces Weather Group in October 1944. In September 1945, the 1st WXG was assigned to the 43rd Weather Wing and later that year to the Headquarters Army Air Forces Weather Service. They were inactivated in 1948, and reactivated and assigned to the Air Weather Service at Offutt AFB through the Military Air Transport Service from 1952 to 1956, after which they were again inactivated. The group reactivated once again under the 1st Weather Wing from 1966 to 1972 at Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam. The most recent period of activation was at Fort McPherson, Ga., from 1992 to 1994 under the Air Combat Command.
The Group was distinguished with service and campaign streamers from World War II and Vietnam. They also earned four outstanding unit awards and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross.
With the addition of the 1st Weather Group's 500-plus weather professionals, the Air Force Weather Agency continues to lead the way with essential air and space environmental intelligence, training, and technical services to ensure battlespace awareness and decision superiority - anytime, anywhere.