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17th Operational Weather Squadron Completes Merger

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- Moving with the Air Force’s Smart Ops 21 initiative, the 20th Operational Weather Squadron from Yokota Air Base, Japan merged into the 17th Operational Weather Squadron at Hickam.

To cover its vast new 95-million square mile AOR the 17 OWS assembled into one center, improved forecast capabilities, trained Airmen and exploited new technology.

“In the Pacific we have streamlined our operations,” said Lt Col Stephen Romolo, 17th Operational Weather Squadron Commander.

“We have consolidated two operational weather squadrons into one; by doing that we have centralized weather support into the war fighting headquarters,” he said.

This merger comes after Air Force Weather reengineered in the late 90s, a time when Air Force Weather reorganized and consolidated their resources into eight regional hubs around the world. This was done to increase efficiency, better utilize manpower and reduce their footprint at local installations and in combat zones.

Now, after a year of planning, the Air Force has seven operational weather squadrons.

“We have some incredibly professional Airmen and they made it happen,” said Maj Christopher Finta, 17th Operational Weather Squadron Director of Operations.

Lt Col Romolo stated, “Weather has been on the forefront of utilizing the Internet. Customers use our web page, we use chat software to increase back and forth collaboration with our combat weather team forecasters who are directly supporting our war fighters in the front. Technology plays a big part when dealing with reach back capabilities.”

By consolidating the squadrons and streamlining their operation, the 17 OWS has been able to increase the level of support to Pacific Air Forces.

“The consolidation that we did in the Pacific has occurred because of a lot of team work by a lot of different organizations. PACAF's Weather Division wrote us a great plan, we executed it, we have eliminated waste and streamlined our operation,” said Lt Col Romolo.

“We have improved the way we do business here in the Pacific.” he said. (Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces)