HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --
The base weather flight transferred from the 1st Special Operations Support Squadron to the 23rd Special Operations Weather Squadron in a merger designed to increase Special Operations Forces’ capabilities on the home front and downrange.
This merger allows for the greater crossflow of data and streamlined communication on weather matters for 1st Special Operations Wing aircrews, since the 23rd SOWS provides weather support for SOF units worldwide, while the weather flight provides weather data for local training sorties.
“If there’s a SOF unit out there that doesn’t have organic weather support attached to them, we’ll pick it up from back here,” said Lt. Col. Paul Koecher, commander of the 23rd SOWS.
The weather flight makes up the third component of the 23rd SOWS, in addition to the operations center here and a detachment at Fort Campbell that works with the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
“Now we can control the weather forecast for an aircraft from the beginning to the end of the mission set,” said Capt. Robert Curry, commander of the 23rd SOWS weather flight. “Instead of having to switch units of control, the forecast now stays in one shop allowing more continuity.”
Aircrew aren’t the only Air Commandos set to benefit from the merger; the 21 additional billets from the weather flight brought the total manning of the 23rd SOWS up enough to warrant full-time slots for a first sergeant and two administrative positions, all of which were previously additional duties within the unit.
Curry says that while the majority of the changes from the merger are administrative, the new structure provided for the weather flight is an avenue to become even more efficient and standardize weather practices across the board.
Koecher said he’s excited to have the extra manning because it helps open up career-development opportunities within the squadron, giving Airmen the chance to move into different sections within the squadron, instead of being forced to go through a permanent change of station for a new position.
This is one of the first times an operations support squadron weather flight has merged with a weather squadron, meaning the new 23rd SOWS team is setting the standard for future weather mergers in the Air Force.
“We have to test things out for the first time, so we’re definitely breaking ground in a new direction,” said Koecher.
The ultimate goal is to increase the capabilities of SOF units across the world, keeping them ready to fight anytime, any place.
“For operators out there, there should be no loss in support to any of their missions, whether they’re in-garrison or worldwide, as this is a more efficient way of supporting them,” he said.