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Weather experts discuss challenges, capabilities at PACAF 2017 Weather Symposium

Ralph Stoffler, Air Force Director of Weather, listens as Lt. Col. Marc Greene, 15 Operations Support Squadron commander gives the,“Attack on Oahu” historical perspective April 3, 2017 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The "Attack on Oahu" historical perspective ties history to current challenges faced in the Pacific theater today. Stoffler visited JBPH-H for the PACAF 2017 Weather Symposium held there April 10-14. (Courtesy Photo)

Ralph Stoffler, Air Force Director of Weather, listens as Lt. Col. Marc Greene, 15 Operations Support Squadron commander gives the,“Attack on Oahu” historical perspective April 3, 2017 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The "Attack on Oahu" historical perspective ties history to current challenges faced in the Pacific theater today. Stoffler visited JBPH-H for the PACAF 2017 Weather Symposium held there April 10-14. (Courtesy Photo)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

If there is one variable that can impact the capabilities and daily operations of U.S. forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, it is weather. Pacific Air Force’s area of responsibility covers 51 percent of the Earth’s surface and is home to 60 percent of the world’s population, prompting the region to be at the forefront of weather awareness and readiness.  

The command’s awareness and readiness was discussed in depth during the PACAF 2017 Weather Symposium held here April 10-14. Weather operators from throughout the Air Force met to discuss expanding their focus and understanding of weather and other natural science challenges to better support the warfighter.

“This region of the world provides some of the most significant impacts that nature has to offer,” said Lt Col Michael Marsicek, Pacific Air Forces Weather Functional.  “Volcanic activity, earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons just to name a few; they all happen here.  Our mission is to ensure leaders at all levels are aware of what impacts these events will have on their operations and to disaster response efforts across the theater.”

“We exist to collect information from the battlespace; bring that data back and incorporate it into the Global Air Land Weather Exploitation Model,” said Mr. Ralph Stoffler, the Air Force Director of the weather career field. “We then fine tune that model to the various mission sets and from it we create and extract applications for the warfighter.”

Leaders use platforms like the symposium to learn more about the day-to-day challenges weather experts face in an effort to help improve the standards and practices to effectively accomplish Air Force missions.

“We are not tied to ownership of these processes,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Richards, Weather career field manager. “We take feedback every chance we get.”

A focus area discussed by leadership during the symposium was the ability to continue executing the mission across the spectrum of operations, whether that be from an airfield or a more austere location.

“It’s great to hear that there is going to be an emphasis on supporting the warfighter from a weather perspective because sometimes that gets lost in our day-to-day job but really that is what we should be focusing on,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Gooch, 17th Operational Weather Squadron flight commander.

 Airmen also discussed ways to incorporate and integrate their capabilities and processes into various missions, to include that of sister services, as another way to improve weather practices.

“Integration is critical for us up in Alaska,” said Capt. Carl Densford, the weather flight commander at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. “With the help of top leaders in this field, it will make it that much easier for us to provide capabilities to effectively support the various platforms in our area.”

By coming together, Airmen and leadership were able to make positive steps forward for the future of the weather career field. For Pacific Air Forces, this means that when it is time to “fight tonight,” the command’s weather capabilities will be ready and able to support the warfighter.