News: Philippine, U.S. forecasters play a big role behind the scenes at PHIBLEX 14
Story by Lance Cpl. Jose Lujano
CLARK AIR FIELD, PAMPANGA, Republic of the Philippines – Throughout history, weather forecasters have had an impact on strategic decision making, and they continue to carry out their mission today ensuring that leathernecks can safely continue operations.
A prime example of forecaster’s importance to operations planning is the scheduling of the amphibious landing at the city of Inchon during the Korean War. The weather and tidal analysis allowed the Marines to execute the landing assault when tides were favorable, which resulted in a decisive victory during the war.
Today, U.S. Marine meteorology and oceanography analyst forecasters with 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade continue this critical work seven days a week with their Philippine Air Force counterparts to ensure the safety of service members and the success of Amphibious Landing Exercise 2014.
PHIBLEX 14, a bilateral training exercise, is designed to improve Philippine-U.S. interoperability, increase readiness, and enhance the ability for a bilateral force to respond to natural disasters or other regional contingencies.
“The main thing for us is to continue informing commanders of weather and terrain conditions, so that first-class bilateral training is conducted,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Erick Lallemand Jr., a meteorology and oceanography analyst forecaster with 3d MEB, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “All of our products are in direct support to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.”
During PHIBLEX 14, the Marines and their Philippine Air Force counterparts held practical applications exercises and subject matter expert exchanges.
“Training with these two Marines I have seen nothing but pure professionalism in their work and as U.S. service members,” said Philippine Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian V. Vinuya, a meteorology and oceanography analyst forecaster with the 900th Air Force Weather Group, Philippine Air Force. “For my first time cross training with U.S. Marines they have also demonstrated nothing but leadership traits.”
Anything that deals with weather or terrain can impact the mission, so the forecasters are a critical part of mission planning. They can help influence decisions to enhance the safety of ground personnel, air personnel and equipment, while increasing the probability of mission success.
“The flight weather brief, which is part of a pilot’s flight plan, needs to be turned in before an aircraft can fly, which comes from us,” said Lallemand. “It is always better to have extra information than just the minimum in case of any unseen weather disasters.”
The weather and climate forecasts support keeps 3d MEB’s aviation combat element in the skies training with their Philippine counterparts.
Mission planning is important to any Marine Corps operation or training evolution; and during exercises like PHIBLEX, this is a military occupational specialty that has no room for error, according to U.S. Marine Cpl. Jared P. Kerness, a meteorology and oceanography analyst forecaster with 3d MEB.
“Not only does our jobs keep aircraft flying, but allows our ground combat element on the ground to keep firing weapons and conducting ground combat training,” according to Kerness.
The forecasters get great satisfaction out of knowing that their efforts ensure safe training, according to Vinuya.
“It has been an honor having the privilege of working with U.S. Marines, and I cannot wait for the next chance I have to working alongside my U.S. counterparts,” said Vinuya. “For the time we have worked together, they will be friends I will never forget about.”