Virginia and D.C. Guard weather flights team up for tactical training

Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard's 200th Weather Flight and the Washington D. C. Air National Guard's 121st Weather Flight put the AN/TMQ-53 Tactical Meteorological Observing System into operation March 8 at Fort A. P. Hill. The two weather forecasting units conducted joint training at Fort A. P. Hill from March 8 to 11 with a focus on operations in a tactical field environment. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

FORT A. P. HILL, Va. — Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard’s 200th Weather Flight and the Washington D. C. Air National Guard’s 121st Weather Flight conducted joint training at Fort A. P. Hill from March 8 to 11 with a focus on operations in a tactical field environment. The mission sets for the 121st in recent years had them operating in a more garrison-like environment, so the Airmen of the 200th shared some of their experience operating in a tactical environment.

“This was an opportunity for us to refocus on our ‘going to the woods’ mission,” explained Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Gamache, superintendent of the 200th Weather Flight. In order to prepare for the joint training, the Airmen of the 200th reviewed the skills and inspected equipment in advance of the training.

“If you want to learn how to do something, teach someone else how to do it,” Gamache said, adding that the training had great value not just for the four Airmen who participated, but for all 20 members of the flight. The 200th has a tactical mission to support the 29th Infantry Division, the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade and the 34th Civil Support Team in addition to the missions supporting Virginia during hazardous weather situations.

Gamache explained that in the post-9/11 mission environment, many of the taskings for Air Force weather forecasters involved deploying to a site where a weather station was already established. For the D. C.  Airmen, much of their experience has been in providing weather forecasting support for homeland defense missions in a non-tactical environment.

To prepare for the training weekend, the Airmen of the 200th set up all of their tents and tactical weather forecasting equipment, conducted functions checks and identified any shortcomings that needed to be addressed for all equipment to be fully mission capable and ready to operate. Several issues were identified with the  AN/TMQ-53 Tactical Meteorological Observing System, but they were repaired and the equipment was a key part of the tactical training.

The Airmen from the 200th walked through the entire set up process with the unit’s organic tents, generators and weather forecasting equipment to demonstrate how they would set up in a field environment. Once the site was established, the Airmen from the 121st ran through different scenarios with the personnel from the 200th providing feedback and insight along the way.

“It was very rewarding for us, and it validated our tactical training plan,” Gamache said.

View more photos on Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157629547192775/

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