Special Operations Weather Teams (SOWT) (AFSC 1W0X1C) are comprised of tactical observers/forecasters with ground combat capabilities and fall under the 720th Special Tactics Group within the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The mission of a Special Operations Weather Technician is to deploy by the most feasible means available into combat and non-permissive environments to collect and interpret meteorological data and provide air and ground forces commanders with timely, accurate intelligence. They collect data, assist mission planning, generate accurate and mission-tailored target and route forecasts in support of global special operations, conduct special weather reconnaissance and train foreign national forces. SOWTs provide vital intelligence and deploy with joint air and ground forces in support of Direct Action, Counter-terrorism, Foreign Internal Defense, Humanitarian Assistance, Special Reconnaissance, Austere Airfield, and Combat Search and Rescue operations.
May 15, 1942 — Parachute School is established at Fort Benning, Ga. It is a three-week course students attend en route to their duty assignment.
June 24, 1942 — Combat weathermen support the American effort against the Japanese in the China-Burma-India theater of operations.
June 1944 — Combat weathermen see action during World War II at Normandy Beach, France; and, in the Netherlands and Yugoslavia.
June 16, 1966 — The 10th Weather Squadron is reactivated at Udon Airfield, Thailand, to conduct combat weather operations in Southeast Asia. The squadron is responsible for training indigenous weather personnel and setting up the clandestine weather observation networks throughout Southeast Asia.
November 1971 — Personnel from the 10th WS are key players in many successful special operations including the highly weather dependent Son Tay Raid. Timing for the Son Tay Raid was advanced by 24 hours based on the three-day forecast. Weather support personnel successfully forecast the only 12 hours of “go” conditions during a 38-day period.
October 1983 — Combat weathermen have directly participated in the majority of modern special operations contingency operations since Operation Urgent Fury, the U.S. invasion of Grenada working with other special operations and conventional forces.
These recent successes include operations: Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Iraqi Freedom, Just Cause in Panama, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Task Force Ranger operations in Somalia, Uphold Democracy in Haiti, operations in Bosnia and counter narcotics operations in South America, as well as ongoing operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom
The 10th Combat Weather Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., is assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command to provide special operations weather teams for worldwide deployment. Their motto, “Coela Bellatores,” or “Weather Warriors,” reaffirms the commitment to deploy into restricted environments by air, land or sea to observe and analyze all weather data from “mud to sun.”
Special operations weathermen are collocated and deploy with elements of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s special forces groups, Rangers and Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
Special operations weathermen are also assigned to special tactics squadrons in AFSOC to join forces with combat controllers and pararescuemen.
A special tactics team frequently operates with Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and Special Forces in direct action, airfield seizure, special reconnaissance and unconventional warfare.
Operating in all climates, day or night, special operations weathermen maintain the high standards of physical fitness and proficiency in the use of light weapons.
Their training, as well as their unique mission, earns them the right to wear the gray beret.
Special operations weathermen conduct the same technical training as all Air Force weathermen. Unlike other special operations forces, special operations weather only recruits from Airmen already within the weather career field.
Special operations weather training includes AFSOC’s Advanced Skills Training conducted at Hurlburt Field, Fla., which produces combat ready special tactics operators through an intensive mentoring training philosophy.
Special Operations Weather Technicians were known as Combat Weathermen until the late 1990s when base weather stations were “redesignated” as Combat Weather Teams (CWT). This caused quite a bit of confusion and prompted the name change from Combat Weatherman to Special Operations Weather Technician. Today’s Combat Weather Teams do not provide a ground combat capability.
Training and Requirements
To be eligible you must:
- Be a High School graduate or have a GED certificate.
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Be a volunteer.
- Have a General score of 64 and an Electronic score of 50 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.
- Be able to pass a Class III flight physical.
- Have vision correctable to 20/20 (NO RADIAL KERATOTAMY).
- Have normal color vision.
- No speech impediments.
- Be able to obtain a secret security clearance.
- Meet specific physical fitness standards.
Males and Females are accepted in the Combat Weather career field. (Females are permitted at Air Combat Command (ACC) assignments based on current Department of Defense policies)
- Be able to swim.
- Have a working knowledge of Physics, Geography, Mathematics, Chemistry, and Earth Science.
U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga. (3 weeks): Trainees learn basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop.
U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. (2.5 weeks): This course teaches basic survival techniques for remote areas. This includes instruction of techniques in survival, evasion and escape.
U.S. Air Force Water Survival School, Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla. (1 week): This course teaches basic water survival techniques.
Initial Skills Training, Hurlburt Field (Six Weeks)
This unit-level training provides newly assigned weathermen those skills necessary to deploy and operate in permissive and semi-permissive environments. Training includes basic communication, navigation and employment techniques, weapons training and small unit tactics.
Air Force Special Operations Command Advanced Skills Training (six months): Advanced Skills Training employs a “warrior-training-warrior“ philosophy, teaching the skills necessary for successful service in the special tactics community. Training includes advanced communication, navigation techniques, employment techniques, weapons training and small unit tactics.