Forecasters prepare for Valiant Shield 2014
TINIAN, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands -- It is argued that the weather cost the French the Battle of Agincourt as their horses struggled across the swampy land in pursuit of Henry V’s significantly smaller British Army.
“If you look across history in different battles, a lot of them have been decided by the weather or it has played a significant part,” said Warrant Officer Jason R. Tyx, a meteorology and oceanography officer with Marine Air Control Squadron 4, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Meteorology and oceanography forecasters set up a perimeter Sept. 15 for their weather monitoring equipment deployed in support of Valiant Shield 2014 on Tinian’s West Field.
“This is a joint exercise, and we are here to support the pilots,” said Tyx. Aircraft from the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy are operating together in Valiant Shield.
“It’s good for the pilots and the Marines. The exercise can be used to showcase the abilities of our equipment and show the other Marines how we can be helpful to them.”
The forecasters are trained to use the weather radar system, which is a subsystem of the meteorological mobile facility replacement next generation system, the meteorological satellite system, and a local sensor subsystem.
The forecasters can do more than just predict whether it will be cold or hot, according to Staff Sgt. Daniel G. Thompson, a meteorological and oceanographic forecaster with MACS-4. They can cover every aspect dealing with weather, which includes soil, temperature, wind speeds, tides and others.
Their primary objective has been supporting the pilots, but now the forecasters want to help Marines on the ground level, according to Sgt. Christopher M. Franks, a meteorological and oceanographic forecaster with MACS-4.
“We can tell the commanding officer, or whomever it may be, how many inches of rain will be expected, which is important because it will affect the operability of vehicles,” said Thompson, a Jacksonville, Florida native.
The Marines will be conducting an island seizure exercise during Valiant Shield.
“We’re trying to establish more of a rapport with (Marines on) the ground, and exercises like this to help us figure out how we can work with (them) more effectively,” said Franks, a native of Miami, Florida. “In order to be able to work with them, first we need to know what they need and what they utilize.”
The forecasters go through nine months of training and they learn constantly through experience, according to Thompson. They are knowledgeable in their jobs and ready for any exercise.
“The weather can affect anything from weapons, the morale of troops, to the mobility of vehicles,” said Thompson. “Knowing the weather ensures the safety of personnel.”
Valiant Shield is a U.S.-only exercise integrating U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps assets, offering real-world joint operational experience to develop capabilities that provide a full range of options to defend U.S. interests and those of its allies and partners.