Airmen with the 607th Combat Weather Squadron show off their TMQ-53, a portable weather station, recently at Camp Humphreys, South Korea. (US Air Force)
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea – One of the Air Force squadrons tasked with measuring weather on the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday added a new “combat” designation to its title, signifying its unique role in supporting army units.
The 607th Combat Weather Squadron at Camp Humphreys joins a short list of Air Force units whose primary task is to provide military assets with data on weather fluctuations.
“It means and differentiates what we do from what traditional Air Force weather squadrons do,” 607th commander Lt. Col. Kevin Bourne told Stars and Stripes on Sunday. “This name change fundamentally sets us apart and really gives us the identity to work with, live with and support military operations.
“It sets us apart and really gives us our own identity,” he said.
The 607th, unlike traditional Air Force weather squadrons, should seamlessly integrate and support Army units. This requires the Airmen to receive additional training in land navigation, hand-to-hand combat and weapons, Bourne said. The military does not have a career field dedicated to weather forecasters and needs the support of units like the 607th.
The squadron’s approximately 60 servicemen use portable weather systems to measure weather conditions across South Korea, which then feed into risk assessments of military land and air assets.
“Everything takes planning and the weather is part of that,” said Master Sgt. Sean Reynolds, a weather forecaster. “Before pilots can take off, they need to get a valid weather report. Winds, visibility and thunderstorms assess the risks.
Accurately measuring the weather conditions on the peninsula remains an important task, especially for aviation units, Reynolds added. The mountainous terrain isolates inclement weather, such as tropical storms, which aviators use in their flight planning.
The 607th is also tracking and issuing warnings about South Korea’s yellow dust, which are fine particles that can cause respiratory problems.
“It’s a great feeling to be on this side of the change,” Bourne said, referring to the rarity of name changes in the military. “When people hear the name of our squadron, they will automatically be able to identify where we are and what we are doing.”