Afghanistan (Nov. 18, 2015) —
Building the Afghan Air Force from the ground-up takes time, equipment, and
capable and professional people to sustain it.
Capt. Haley Homan, Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air (TAAC-Air) weather
adviser, is deployed here from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, to advise the
AAF meteorologists and weather forecasters on how to provide weather support to
the Afghan National Defense Security Forces.
Her advisory duties include daily planning forecasts for various locations
throughout the country, specialized flight weather briefings for aviators, and
issuing watches, warnings, and advisories to warn Airmen and soldiers of
impending inclement weather.
“[The rewarding part of my job is] teaching new weather concepts and watching
their faces light up when they understand, and they are able to apply what
they’ve learned in order to produce weather products used to support AAF and
[Afghan National Army] operations.”
Language barriers have been the most challenging part of her job.
“Although I have a great translator working alongside me, there are many
technical terms that aren't easily translated into Dari, so many times I have
to give additional explanation of a term and come up with creative ways of
explaining what it means to make sure the correct translation is given.”
Recently the AAF director of meteorology hosted a two-week course at the Kabul
Air Wing where five Afghan weather officers from across Afghanistan came
together to hone their skills and learn new techniques.
Homan said the coordination and logistics of getting all five personnel to
Kabul was done completely by the AAF director of meteorology, which is an
important step to ensure the AAF is professional, capable and sustainable.
She attended the training courses daily, but stood back and let her Afghan
counterpart take the lead. She jumped in every so often to provide input or
demonstrate practical applications with weather instrumentation.
“We trained on how to take manual observations using a hand-held device called
a Kestrel,” the Nebraska-native said. “We also looked at other aspects of
weather observation such as visibility, sky condition, present weather, and
wind direction, which the Kestrel cannot sense, and are performed by the
One Afghan weather officer from Herat, a city approximately 400 miles west of
Kabul, said through an interpreter that they worked outside doing practical
exercises with the Kestrel and recorded the altitude of the clouds,
temperatures, visibility levels and dew point readings.
“The weather was rainy that day and there were many low-hanging clouds … it was
a good practical exercise,” he said.
These visual readings help the AAF weather officers prepare reports for pilots
and ANA commanders to support mission requirements.
“Knowing how to take proper observations is very important since this is the
only way other AAF forecasters are able to know what the current weather
conditions are at different locations,” Homan said. “At this time, the amount
of real-time observations is limited which makes it very difficult to provide
accurate weather information to the military operations who need it.”
Homan said advising has been the most rewarding job she’s had in the U.S. Air
“If I had the opportunity to volunteer to do this again there would be no doubt
in my mind … Yes!”