Since 2018 the 557th Weather Wing has provided Meteorological and Oceanographic support to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in support of the NATO Resolute Support Mission.
RSM was a NATO-led, non-combat mission established at the request of the Afghan government in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2189 of 2014.
RSM was established to help the Afghan security forces and allied nations develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens. At its peak, the 557th WW was supporting approximately 10,000 personnel from 36 NATO allies and partner countries.
557th WW support was primarily accomplished through the expertise of three squadrons: the 28th Operational Weather Squadron, 16th Weather Squadron and the 2nd Systems Operations Squadron. The squadrons accomplished this through providing weather intelligence that fits the Military Decision-Making Processes and current technological capabilities of NATO then our cyber team creates the platform and grants a secure means to retrieve the information. This is where our support to the intel community begins. The squadrons work problems specific to our Allies. An example of this is how the 28th OWS provides on-the-spot support to intel teams to ensure all details of the battlefield are certain.
“The 28th OWS advances the NATO military mission through weather knowledge, cyber innovation and intel exploitation,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Muggelberg, 28th OWS commander. “We also provide traditional weather analysis that our NATO partners have relied on for nearly two decades.”
The support from the 557th WW was so successful that SHAPE requested continued support even though the Afghanistan campaign ended. In a letter to Air Force leadership, Norwegian army Brig. Gen. Jon Morten Mangersnes, assistant chief of staff for strategic employment, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, requested the U.S. continue to consider acting as an Integrated METOC Assisting Nation to NATO Mission Iraq.
“The expertise of the USA is highly regarded in this area and would improve NATO’s military effectiveness,” Mangersnes said.
The job specialties employed by 557th WW Airmen to ensure success for SHAPE include cyber, intel and weather. Each squadron has at least one area they specialize in to accomplish the mission.
“The 16th WS enables warfighter outcomes by operating global and regional numerical weather models which create environmental predictions for specific NATO interest regions,” said Lt. Col. Sean Wile, 16th WS commander. “For the NATO Air Policing mission, these 16th WS weather predictions are automatically converted into images that are sent to SHAPE using a combination of software and other capabilities from the 16th WS and 2nd SYOS.”
The 557th WW is passionate about getting the weather intelligence needed for the mission and 2nd SYOS wants to get it there safe, secure and fast.
“While 2nd SYOS actions are centered on cyber – secure receipt, processing and delivery of weather data, our actions support the weather and intel missions of our NATO partners,” said Lt. Col. Heidi Schiano, 2nd SYOS commander. “The Initial effort of adding products for supporting RSM to the already established NATO Air Policing product flow was pretty straight-forward.”
Schiano went on to say how a straight-forward mission doesn’t always mean easy but it can mean busy.
“2nd SYOS did play a large coordination role when German Bundeswehr Geoinformation Centre requested the products broken out by mission supported to facilitate their automated processes,” Schiano said. “It took heavy coordination from 557th WW/A6, 1st Weather Group, 2nd SYOS, BGIC and U.S. Air Force liaison to NATO and resulted in accurately splitting over 66,600 daily files by mission supported.”
As 557th WW continues to display its abilities on a global scale, it is important to remember that it is a team effort.
“Most missions start with data acquired or routed by 2d SYOS, it then comes to 16th WS and we apply science to the process by decoding, computing, and post-processing that data into something 2nd SYOS can disseminate for use in machine-to-machine intelligence decision-making, by weather forecasters like 28th OWS and by NATO decision-makers at all echelons with the end goal of accomplishing the mission,” Wile said. “While all of that is happening, 2d Weather Support Squadron, 16th WS, 2nd SYOS, 28th OWS and 557th WW contractors and partners work to make sure this process is as cyber secure as possible and we all have the tools we need to succeed.”
“The 28th OWS provides direct NATO support by deploying forces forward to advance the U.S. and NATO mission,” Muggelberg said. “However, we only succeed when all of the 557th WW pieces forge together to generate warfighter insights on the global environmental spectrum.”
The 557th WW has demonstrated intel and cyber capabilities well beyond the mere ‘weatherman stereotype’ thrusted upon Weather Warriors through decades of flight and installation weather briefings. Today’s cyber, intel, weather Airman speaks through the premise that Weather Drives Behavior using science and data as a firm foundation.