It may seem a little strange, having “Combat Weathermen”, but in an age when so many operations involve airborne (para-) or helo-driven delivery of direct action and recce assets, knowing the weather to the last detail is imperative (consider the fact that the 173RD probably wouldn’t have jumped when it was supposed to in the early days of the invasion of Iraq, if it hadn’t been for a Combat Weatherman on the ground). Then there is the level of training – Combat Weathermen have arguably the most extensive training of any specialty in the entire Air Force. It literally takes nearly two years to train a rookie Special Operations Weather Airman.
Special Operations Weathermen deploy almost exclusively with Army SOCOM personnel, including Rangers, Special Forces operators and elements of the 160TH Special Operations Aviation Regiment, as well as SEALs and other units, in direct action and FID missions. They are also tasked with missions alongside Combat Controllers, PJs, TACPs and other members of AFSOC STS units in support of Coalition operations (predominantly unconventional and assymetric warfare). To this end their garrison days encompass the skill sets required for the airmen to collocate and operate with those units (if they don’t include working on their own unique meteorological skillsets).