Air Force Special Operations weathermen train in San Antonio
'Weather Commandos' a small but vital fighting force in the U.S. military.
SAN ANTONIO - The Special Operations Weather Technicians are a unique part of the Air Force.
"You are a trained weather forecaster that also is trained in all of the tactical skills to go out with Army Special Forces, Army Rangers, (and) in some cases, Navy SEALS," said Training Sgt. Ryan Noezelman, instructor for the SOWTs initial two-week training session.
The information the SOWTs collect is vital to determining battlefield conditions.
"If you are out in the field without a weatherman, then you really don't know what the environment is going to hit you with next," said SOWT candidate Airman Mark Lipski, of Mineola, Texas.
The first two weeks of a more than two-year long training regimen takes place on the grounds of Lackland Air Force Base.
The trainees take courses in fitness, nutrition, the history of the Special Operations Weather Team, and are put through numerous physical fitness training courses.
The base was gracious enough to allow KSAT to go through some of the training exercises.
The physical training is demanding, but it has to be.
These SOWTs aren't just going to be weather nerds observing and forecasting the weather. They are going to be put in situations where they may be confronted with -- and have to use -- deadly force.
"You're on reconnaissance missions. You're on, in some cases, what we call 'direct action,' where you may be going in shooting," said Noezelman.
These SOWT candidates wouldn't have it any other way.
"That's part of why I joined. I didn't just want to join for the meteorological aspect of it but for the running and gunning too," said SOWT candidate Sr. Airman Kevin Byrne.
"I wanted to do something amazing. Something that I would remember for the rest of my life," said SOWT candidate Airman David Culbertson, of Billings, Mont.
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