21st OWS keep eyes on the skies

  • Published
  • By Airman Dymekre Allen
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A bright and sunny day at work turned chaotic in an instant, winds blowing with enough force to tip vehicles, hail and lighting powerful enough to knock large aircraft from the sky.

The only hope of protecting cargo, aircraft and lives rides on the eyes of the watchmen. They are the men and women of the 21st Operational Weather Squadron who tirelessly survey the skies to give foresight hours in advance to prevent major weather damage.

The 21st OWS provides commanders and operators with accurate and timely situational awareness in support of U.S. Air Force, joint and combined operations across U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command. They are also responsible for round-the-clock weather support across four major locations covering the globe.

"We keep our eyes on the storms," said Staff Sgt. Justin Poston, 21st OWS regional forecast supervisor. "It's a very challenging and detail oriented career field because weather is unpredictable so we need to be patient to be able to push out adequate information in order to keep the communities safe."

The OWS is a unique squadron with a Naval Aviation Forecast Detachment imbedded, which includes 16 naval personnel who are specifically assigned to provide forecast support to the numerous naval bases.

"Working alongside the Air Force gives us a larger spectrum of knowledge," said AG1 Larry Pacquer, 21st OWS regional forecast supervisor. "By working in a joint environment and coming from different training backgrounds we have the ability to put multiple eyes on a single problem to see what actions are best for the mission."

In an emergency situation the OWS has the capability to provide weather warnings, notify local communities and alert airfields in a timely manner.

"In bad weather we give those in danger a 30-hour notice," Poston said. "The faster we collect data and send it out, the more potential we have to save lives."

Whether it's open sky missions or combat operations, the OWS is critical in maintaining the effectiveness of the global Air Force mission. Their support is visible Air Force wide and helps keep more than 50 thousand personnel informed of expected weather conditions and aid in protecting more than 30 billion dollars worth of DoD assets.

These weather wizards keep an owl's eye on the sky, continuously watching and waiting for the smallest inkling of a storm to provide global outreach and support to all those in need.