AEROSPACE WEATHER OPERATIONS
This document establishes doctrine for Air Force aerospace weather operations. It is derived from guidance in Air Force Manual 1-1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force, and supports Joint Pub 3-59, Joint Doctrine for Meteorological and Oceanographic Support. This manual describes the fundamental principles employed by weather forces for aerospace power projection and other military operations.
SUMMARY OF REVISIONS
Completely rewritten to conform with guidance in AFPD 10-13, Aerospace Doctrine, and to take into account changes in Air Force structure and experiences from past military operations.
1. Glossary of References, Terms and Definitions 7
"Weather is the essence of successful air operations"
Gen. Henry H. ("Hap") Arnold
1.1. General. Air Force Weather is a force multiplier; it consists of active and reserve Air Force personnel who are organized, equipped and trained to enhance combat operations. Air Force Weather personnel provide tailored weather decision aids which play a crucial role in all military activities. Accurate weather predictions enable the commander to direct combat forces at the right time, with the correct weight of effort, in support of tactical, operational, and strategic operations.
1.2. Weather's Impact on Military Capability. America's national security environment and its corresponding Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) often change. As an example, the military recently made a significant change from a global, cold war strategy to a regional strategy that relies on a smaller US-based contingency force. Technology, at the same time, provides constant change to military capabilities supporting the DPG. What does not change is the fact that virtually all forces that comprise our military capability are influenced by the weather--warfighting more often adapts to the weather rather than it surmounts it, just as it adapts to terrain and sea conditions. Weather exerts constant influence on the readiness, morale, and effectiveness of military forces, the choice of military strategy and tactics, and the performance and useful life of military weapons systems. Even the most advanced, high-cost weapon systems are affected by the aerospace environment. Weather must therefore be considered in every facet of military force planning, deployment, and employment, and system design and evaluation.
1.3. Role of Air Force Weather Personnel. Air Force weather personnel, provide information on the past, present, and future states of the air and space environments within which weapon systems and their supporting infrastructure operate. They function as an integral part of combat operations. Their most important role is to provide the warfighter tailored weather information that enhances combat effectiveness. Together with the warfighter, they perform this role by understanding the effects of weather; seeing the opportunities they offer; and anticipating when they will come into play. Successfully accomplishing this role allows the commander to set the terms for battle to maximize his performance while taking advantage of limitations on enemy forces. Additionally, they provide information critical to peacetime operations, personnel safety and resource protection, and provide a vital link in the development of new equipment, weapons systems, combat tactics, and effectiveness analysis.
2.1. General Considerations. The following principles are the cornerstone of Air Force Weather (AFW) in all military operations. By applying these principles, AFW will be better prepared to enhance and sustain military operations.
2.2. Accuracy of Data/Information. Commanders depend on accurate weather information to plan and direct their operations. Inaccurate information can cost lives, undermine the successful execution of an operation/mission, waste resources, and impair readiness. This is true anytime--whether at peace or at war. The complexity of the mission and amount of detail required, the capability to collect data, model and forecast the weather, the perishable nature of weather data, and human error all affect accuracy. Therefore, weather information will never be totally free of inaccuracy. These factors must be explained to decision makers so they may weigh them in making decisions.
2.3. Timeliness of Data/Information. AFW is effective when a commander receives accurate weather information in time to consider its impact on the decision to be made. Weather information that could influence an operation or program is worthless whenever the commander receives it after an opportunity has passed, an irreversible decision has been made, or an operation is complete. Communication links are vital to support and sustain the timely dissemination of weather information and are key to the overall capability of AFW.
2.4. Relevance to the Operational User. AFW must provide the user an understanding of the weather situation through information that is directly relevant and applicable to the responsibilities of each echelon of the supported command. It must bear on the echelon's current, planned, and alternative courses of action. Weather personnel must tailor the information for specific applications so the user can quickly identify and apply relevant information without additional analysis or manipulation. Attaining this principle requires AFW personnel understand operational user needs and implies a user's responsibility to communicate specific requirements for content, form, medium, presentation, timeliness, and frequency of delivery.
2.5. Unity of Effort. Weather information which influences a commander's decision usually cannot be derived from data obtained from a single source. Instead, weather data from many sources must be assembled into a database which contains a complete and integrated summary of weather over an extended region and time encompassing the area of interest to the commander. Within a theater of war, or for a particular joint operations area, there must be unity of effort to ensure the weather database is as complete and accurate as possible. To accomplish this task, weather organizations at all levels must have clearly defined functions which eliminate duplication, maximize sharing of information, and are mutually supportive of the overall weather concept. The responsibilities of each AFW organization must be clear, explicit, and understood by all.
2.6. Readiness. Weather forces, databases, products, and equipment must be responsive to the requirements of commanders, and their forces. Weather resources oriented to areas where there is a high probability of military operations must be maintained in a degree of readiness that ensures immediate employment capability.
2.7. Measure of Effectiveness. The overall effectiveness of AFW must be based on the successful and effective accomplishment of specific military operations. Each weather organization must direct its actions towards this goal. This requires weather organizations at all levels to be fully integrated into all operations. Such interaction leads to mutual understanding and trust between the weather forces and other warfighting forces.
"In military operations, weather is the first step in planning and the final determining factor in execution of any mission."
3.1. General Considerations. The primary weather functions required to enhance military operations are summarized below. These functions need to be performed in full recognition of the fundamental weather principles outlined in chapter 2.
3.2. Collection. AFW depends on the collection of high quality weather data. As an example, observations from land and ship, upper air sounding devices, meteorological satellites, weather radars, lightning detection systems, atmospheric profilers, solar telescopes, ionospheric sensors, buoys, and aircraft set the foundation for AFW to enhance operational missions, and are the essential
components of regional and worldwide databases from which weather services and products are derived. Because of the rapidly changing nature of the aerospace environment, these observations are extremely perishable and must be continuously updated and available to military operations.
3.3. Analysis. After collection of available data, AFW develops a coherent picture of the current state of the aerospace environment--a critical function which better enables accurate forecasts of future states of the aerospace environment.
3.4. Forecasting. Through the evaluation and interpretation of collected and analyzed weather data, specific forecast products are developed to enhance military operations and to satisfy user requirements. Forecast products can be developed for the near or far term and on a scale ranging from global in size to pinpoint locations in the battlespace. For example; generalized, long-range planning forecasts are required from several days to several weeks in advance of an operation. Specific mission planning and execution forecasts are needed at the launch/start and during execution of a mission.
3.5. Tailored Application. A key function in the overall ability of AFW to enhance theater military operations is the tailored application of forecast products and information to assist the decision making process of commanders. By applying weather information to operating limitations of weapon systems and associated tactics, techniques, and procedures, commanders can identify favorable, marginal, and unfavorable weather-effects information.
3.6. Dissemination. Weather information is of no operational use unless it reaches the user in time to be of operational or planning value. Therefore, AFW functions need to process and disseminate weather information to users by the fastest means available. Weather personnel and the users of weather information must determine what information merits distribution, to whom, when, and the format and media required. They must have a common understanding of the impact of timeliness on operations. Mutual efforts by weather personnel to promote their capabilities and by users to state their requirements must be accomplished. This will ensure the user receives the information needed for the task at hand rather than be
inundated with unneeded products or not receive a key product.
3.7. Evaluation. AFW evaluations by operational users and weather personnel ensure weather information effectiveness. Evaluations based upon established standards identify shortfalls in the value of various types of products, the responsiveness of the weather products to the user, and techniques used to provide them. Implementing timely corrective actions enhances the overall effectiveness of AFW.
3.8. Integration. AFW extends beyond the functions identified above. Weather personnel must actively participate in staff actions involving planning for, or assessing the effectiveness of an operation or weapon system. Integration of weather information in the form of decision aids into the planning process allows commanders to make informed decisions with regard to the design and operation of a plan. For example, early integration of information from weather studies developed from climatological databases can aid the long-range planning of military operations, or the research, design, and development of equipment and weapon systems. Integration of weather information during the process of assessing the effectiveness of weapons with electro-optical sensors can help warfighters obtain maximum combat benefit from precision guided munitions. Weather information integrated with other sources of information have a major effect on the enemy's probable course of action due to the enemy's ability or inability to perform in given weather conditions. Figure 3.1 describes a highly simplified model of AFW by which raw data is converted into information and made available to the user. The individual functions are part of a process which is logical, parasequential, and iterative.
Figure 3.1. Air Force Weather System.
"Weather is never important until it's important and then it's too late"
4.2. Organization. AFW functions are conducted at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels to enhance wartime operations of combat forces, operations short of war, and peacetime operational requirements and training.
4.2.1. At the tactical level, weather units collect and disseminate weather information, generate analysis and forecast products, and use centrally prepared products normally produced at strategic level organizations to provide tailored information to enhance the execution of specific operational missions.
4.2.2. At the operational level, weather units build and maintain regional weather databases and provide tailored
area and target information to command and control activities and tactical level weather forces operating in a specific geographic area of responsibility. To do this, these units rely on weather data from tactical level units and products from centralized sites at the strategic level. These units may function as joint weather units in the theater in which they are located.
4.2.3. At the strategic level, centralized weather organizations use resources to build and maintain a variety of worldwide meteorological and space environmental databases. Then they generate products which are not produced at the tactical and operational level weather units. Centralized products provide data and guidance from which mission-tailored products are derived. Centralized weather organizations may function as joint or theater weather units when required for joint operations.
4.3. Continuous Operations. Air Force weather forces and organizations must have the flexibility and mobility required to ensure uninterrupted information to military forces regardless of the operating conditions or location. To ensure this continuity at all echelons, weather organizations, and their supporting communication architectures, must be constituted as soon as possible after employment to allow for data collection and analysis, operational product preparation, and dissemination. If the constitution of this infrastructure is delayed weather information for operational and tactical planning, and the conduct of operations may not be adequate.
4.4. Preparation and Training. Weather personnel are professionals who must be able to provide quality, tailored, battlespace weather information to the warfighters. They must, therefore, possess both technical proficiency and military skills. This requires aggressive and realistic training that fully exercises tactical equipment, capabilities, and procedures. Training must include and simulate many of the uncertainties expected during contingencies or war; e.g., communication outages, lack of data, etc. Training must be evaluated in order to determine the value of the training and to assess current capabilities. As the military develops and integrates sophisticated new technologies, continued technical education and realistic training are even more essential to the professional growth and overall capability of weather personnel.
4.5. Relationship with Joint and Combined Operations. In a contingency or war, military weather systems will most likely be the only assured source of weather information. In a crisis environment, reliance on other sources of weather information may result in a degraded quality of weather information. Air Force weather personnel must think and train from a joint perspective as detailed in joint doctrine and joint tactics, techniques, and procedures for Meteorological and Oceanographic (METOC) operations. This maximizes the effectiveness of available resources during theater operations and ensures maximum interoperability and unity of effort of component forces. Additionally, Air Force weather personnel must consider and exploit capabilities of allied weather forces during combined operations.
MERRILL A. McPEAK, General, USAF
Chief of Staff
Joint Pub 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
Joint Pub 3-59, Joint Doctrine for Meteorological and Oceanographic Support
AFPD 15-1, Atmospheric and Space Environmental Support (formerly AFR 105-1)
AFM 1-1, Volumes I and 11, Basic Aerospace Doctrine
AFR 1-2, Assignment of Responsibilities for Development of Air Force Doctrine
Field Manual 34-81/AFM 105-4, Weather Support for Army Tactical Operations
Combined--Between two or more forces or agencies of two or more allies. (Joint Pub 1-02)
Doctrine--Fundamental principles by which the military forces or elements thereof guide their actions in support of national objectives. It is authoritative but requires judgment in application. (Joint Pub 1-02)
Functional Doctrine--Establishes principles, concepts, and considerations that guide the conduct of combat support operations to sustain, maintain, and assist the conduct of the air war. (AFM 1-1, Vol II)
Infrastructure--a term generally applicable to all fixed and permanent installations, fabrications, or facilities for the support and control of military forces. (Joint Pub 1-02)
Interoperability--The ability of systems, units or forces to provide services to and accept services from other systems, units, or forces and to use the services so exchanged to enable them to operate effectively together. (Joint Pub 1-02)
Joint--Connotes activities, operations, organizations, etc., in which elements of more than one Service of the same nation participate. (Joint Pub 1-02)
Joint Doctrine--Fundamental principles that guide the employment of forces of two or more Services in coordinated action toward a common objective. It will be promulgated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in coordination with the combatant commands, Services, and Joint Staff. (Joint Pub 1-02)
Military Capability--The ability to achieve a specified wartime objective (win a war or battle, destroy a target set). It includes four major components: force structure, modernization, readiness, and sustainability.
Principle--A comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption.
Strategy--The art and science of developing and using political, economic, psychological, and military forces as necessary during peace and war, to afford the maximum support to policies, in order to increase the probabilities and favorable consequences of victory and to lessen the chances of defeat. (Joint Pub 1-02)
Theater--The geographical area outside the continental United States for which a commander of a combatant command has been assigned responsibility. (Joint Pub 1-02)