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Air Force meteorologists forecast weather while in harm's way

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The beginning of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season season has been a quiet one. Aside from a disturbance bringing some bad weather to southern parts of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center is not showing any potential storms on the current map and forecasters don't expect any to form over the next five days.

Instead of an extended entry about something that's not happening, this seems like a good time to talk about some of America's unsung heroes. Almost all of the military services have “special operations” units who out of necessity operate mostly in the shadows far out of any spotlights. A few, such as the Navy SEALS, Army Green Berets and Air Force Pararescue Jumpers have gained some notoriety over the years, but others are far less well-known.

Perhaps the least-known of the special operators are the Air Force's are the personnel who make up the Special Operations Weather Team. By now it's taken for granted that special operators are elite troops. But the SOWT operators may take the cake when it comes to myriad qualifications. According to the Air Force's website, after basic training, enlisted personnel who have at least 15 college credits and who want to go into weather forecasting go into a specialty training school that last about 6 months. But the “fun” really starts when one of them decides to try out for SOWT.

The Air Force Special Operations Command website lists the courses would be SOWT members have to pass. Among them, Army Parachute school, Basic Survival Skills, Air Force Water Survival School along with basic and advanced training schools that teach students how to deploy with special operations teams in combat zones. As well as making accurate forecasts in hostile environments, students are taught to use the same weaponry as the teams they work with.

Does anyone suddenly feel inspired to sign up?

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