Part of Air Combat Command
|Country United States|
|Branch United States Air Force|
Role Weather observation, reporting and analysis
Garrison/HQ Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
Current commander Col. Steven N. Dickerson
Motto Coelum Ad Proelium Elige Latin Choose the Weather for Battle
Similar United States Air Force Sp, Military Airlift Command, Air Force Intelligence - Surveilla, Strategic Air Command, United States Strategic
The 557th Weather Wing is a United States Air Force formation and its lead military meteorology center. It delivers environmental situational awareness worldwide to the Air Force, the Army, joint warfighters, Unified Combatant Commands, the national intelligence community, and the Secretary of Defense. It is headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska.
- World War II
- Weather reconnaissance
- Expansion worldwide
- Transfer of weather functions to the operational commands
- Army Air Forces Base Units
- Awards and campaigns
The wing fields weather equipment and training to Air Force operational weather squadrons, and weather flights in Operations Support Squadrons at locations around the world. It builds a comprehensive weather database of forecast, climatological, and space weather products.
The wing's mission is to exploit weather information to American military forces anytime and everywhere. It is assigned more than 1,800 active-duty, reserve, civilian and contract personnel and is headquartered on Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska with a $175 million annual budget. Weather forecasts are produced using numerical weather prediction software such as the Weather Research and Forecasting model and the Unified Model.
The 557th Weather Wing is organized into a headquarters element, consisting of staff agencies, two groups, three directorates, and five solar observatories.
The 1st Weather Group, with headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, aligns stateside weather operations with the Air Force warfighting initiative overseeing Operational Weather Squadrons. Each of the squadrons produces forecasts for a specified area of the United States. The 15th Operational Weather Squadron, located at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is responsible for the Northern and Northeast United States; 25th Operational Weather Squadron, located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, is responsible for the Western United States; and 26th Operational Weather Squadron, located at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, is responsible for the Southern United States. The squadrons also serve as training hubs for new weather professionals — both enlisted and officers. The group equips weather professionals with the training and skills necessary to deliver environmental information for commanders and military decision makers.
The 2nd Weather Group, with headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, delivers timely, relevant and specialized terrestrial, space and climatological global weather information to Joint combatants, Department of Defense decision-makers, national agencies, and allied nations for the planning and execution of missions across the complete spectrum of military operations through the operation, sustainment and maintenance of Air Force Weather's US$277 million strategic center computer complex, production network, and applications. The group is composed of the 2nd Weather Squadron, 2nd Systems Operations Squadron, the 2nd Combat Weather Systems Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and the 14th Weather Squadron in Asheville, North Carolina. It also includes four solar observatories manned by detachments of the 2nd Weather Squadron: Det. 1, Learmonth, Australia; Det. 2, Sagamore Hill, Massachusetts; Det. 4, Holloman AFB, New Mexico; and Det. 5, Palehua, Hawaii.
The Operations, Training and Evaluation Directorate (A3) provides a heads-up display of the Air Force Weather Weapon System that strengthens the wing’s ability to conduct weather ops and supports worldwide DoD operations. The A3 Directorate also delivers state-of-the-art technical training for the career field, oversees the development of career field training plans and computer-based tutorials on new equipment, is constructing the first formal AFWWS Technical Training Program, and coordinates standardization and evaluation visits of wing units.
The Communications Directorate (A6) provides overall direction for the development of doctrine, policies and procedures, as well as professional, technical, and managerial expertise, for communication and information systems, information assurance, and information management for wing. They also provide communication and information policy, guidance, management, operations, software development, and maintenance of communications and computer systems and services to satisfy the centralized weather support requirements of the DoD and other government agencies. Directs the planning, programming, budgeting, acquisition, and life cycle management for all standard weather systems and computer processing equipment.
The Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs Directorate (A5/A8) directs the planning, programming, budgeting, acquisition, and life cycle management for all standard weather systems and computer processing equipment. Equipping the weather force is mainly a function of the A8 directorate. They coordinate capabilities development conducted by three separate production centers and integrate them into a single Air Force Weather Weapon System.
The Lt. Gen. Thomas Samuel Moorman Building, valued at US$26.7 million, is the Headquarters for the 557th Wing, with a total of 188,000 sq ft (17,500 m2). The three-story building, designed to support 1,100 people, and was scheduled to become fully operational by 2011 as the staff relocated in increments. The new facility is a "Gold Certified" Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design structure by the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED rating is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Being a Gold Certified building means the facility has been designed to and reached a recognized level of implementation and continuous monitoring of their "green" programs such as energy efficiency, recycling and the use of environmentally friendly products. The new building is an example of the emphasis the Air Force is placing on responsible use of and preservation of the environment. By becoming certified, the facility will do its part to accomplish the vision of the Air Force Environmental Strategic Plan — fully supporting Air Force missions with natural infrastructure assets while protecting human health and safety and the environment. Initiatives and concepts incorporated into the headquarters building are part of the reason the Air Force was recently named number one among the nation's top 10 federal government green power partners.
The 557th Weather Wing can trace its heritage to the organization of the Meteorological Service of the United States Army Signal Corps, which was established during World War I. By 1937, the Army was supplementing the weather services of the United States Weather Bureau by operating thirty weather stations of its own in the United States and six more overseas. Because most of the Army stations were operated for the benefit of the Air Corps, on 1 July 1937, the Secretary of War transferred responsibility for Army weather services to the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps. Within the United States, the 1st, 2d and 3d Weather Squadrons were organized. Each was responsible for a region that was congruent with the area of responsibility of one of the three wings assigned to General Headquarters Air Force.
World War II
By 1942, supervision of Army weather activities within the United States had been centralized in the Army Air Forces (AAF) Weather Service, headed by the Director of Weather on the Air Staff. However, in 1943 the AAF reorganized in an effort to move as many operations out of Washington DC as possible, and responsibility for the AAF Weather Service was transferred to Flight Control Command, which organized and activated the Weather Wing, Flight Control Command to manage this responsibility. This wing is the direct organizational ancestor of the 557th Weather Wing. By 3 May 1943 Flight Control Command had relocated the headquarters of the Weather Wing to Asheville, North Carolina. Although responsibility for the AAF Weather Service was returned to the Air Staff in July, the wing remained in North Carolina. Although the AAF Weather Wing commanded weather activities in the United States, it had no authority over those in overseas theaters of operations. It did influence those units, however, by establishing procedures and standards for them to follow and by defining weather equipment requiremnts for the Signal Corps and operationally testing the equipment.
In July 1945, after the defeat of Germany, but while the war with Japan was still in progress, the AAF Weather Service and the AAF Weather Wing were combined and the wing was redesignated AAF Weather Service. This reorganization followed the successful examples of Air Transport Command and Army Airways Communications System, concentrating responsibility in a single service with operational control of units providing the service. Action began to transfer overseas weather units to the command of the new service. On 7 January 1946, the service moved to Langley Field, Virginia.
In early 1946, the AAF determined to place its technical services under the command of Air Transport Command. On 13 March 1946, AAF Weather Service was redesignated Air Weather Service and along with Air Communications Service, Air Rescue Service. and Air Pictorial Service, assigned to Air Transport Command Soon afterwards it moved to Gravelly Point, Virginia, where it was colocated with ATC headquarters.
During the war, the AAF had developed weather reconnaissance units for scouting and route weather observation and reporting, but these units had remained under the command of theater commanders or Air Transport Command. Once Air Weather Service became part of ATC, the time was ripe to place weather reconnaissance unit under its command. In July 1946, it established the Air Weather Group (Provisional) at Morrison Field, Florida, In October, this group was taken out of provisional status and became the 308th Reconnaissance Group, Weather.
With the formation of the United States Air Force in 1947, Air Weather Service assumed the responsibility of worldwide weather reporting and forecasting for both the Air Force and the Army. In 1948, Air Weather Service moved to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, and was assigned to the newly activated Military Air Transport Service, which was later redesignated Military Airlift Command. Air Weather Service relocated to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, in 1958, where it remained for nearly four decades.
Transfer of weather functions to the operational commands
Air Force Weather, organized as the Air Weather Service from 1947 to 1991, continued to provide environmental awareness for both the Air Force and the Army. By 1991, Air Weather Service had divested itself of its major field structure and the bulk of Air Force Weather was realigned under the direct administration of the supported commands.
Air Force Weather Agency and its predecessors has been essentially instrumental in the protection of life and property at home as well. Since World War II, Air Force weather personnel have provided hurricane reconnaissance. In 1948 two Air Force weather officers issued the first tornado warning. Air Force Weather participated in the development of the nation's severe storm forecasting centers.
With its early adoption of emerging computing and communications technologies, Air Force Weather was at the fore of the Space Age. In the 1960s Air Force Weather began assimilating weather data collected from meteorological satellites. At the same time, Air Force Weather, as the single agent for all of DoD, began solar observations and forecasting.
Air Force Weather endorsed the Information Revolution early in the 1980s with tools that provided state-of-the art computing at the lowest echelons to gather, process, and disseminate weather data. In concert with Air Force communicators, Air Force Weather constructed communications networks that enabled weather information to be disseminated around the world in moments. Today, the Air Force Weather Agency, through its Weather Product Management and Distribution System at Offutt AFB, employs the internet to rapidly disseminate weather data around the globe.
Working with the other national agencies, Air Force Weather has been instrumental in the development of modern meteorological technologies, such as the deployment of NEXRAD, the Next Generation Radar, in the 1990s. Air Force Weather continues to refine and develop forecasting models relevant for modern military operations.
In April 1991, the Office of the Director of Weather was created on the Air Staff to provide policy and guidance for Air Force Weather. During the latter half of the 1990s and continuing into the 21st century, Air Force Weather was reorganized to better meet the demands of modern military operations.
The Air Force designated Air Weather Service a field operating agency and reassigned it to Headquarters United States Air Force in 1991. On 15 Oct. 1997, Air Weather Service was redesignated the Air Force Weather Agency and relocated to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
On March 27, 2015 the Air Force Weather Agency was re-designated as the 557th Weather Wing and was aligned under the United States Air Force's Air Combat Command, 12th Air Force. The purpose of the change is to ultimately refocus attention strictly to the weather forecasting mission and heritage that the agency prides itself in.