Sunny, with a chance of sandstorms: Canadian meteorological technician certifies as an aviation forecaster in Mali

A Canadian soldier looks at a computer while a German soldier talks on the phone.
Gao, Mali. July 15, 2018 – *Image has been altered for OPSEC purposes* WO Glen Slauenwhite, a Meteorological Technician with Operation PRESENCE – Mali, closely monitors the weather prior to the arrival of the Canadian helicopters in Camp Castor. (Photo: MCpl Jennifer Kusche)

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By Sub-Lieutenant Melanie Aqiqi (Public Affairs Officer, Task Force Mali) with notes from Warrant Officer Glen Slauenwhite

The future of Canadian meteorological technician (Met Tech) forecasters looks bright.

Until now, they have not been employed by other nations in a forecaster role. In most other militaries, forecasters are from the officer cadre, so Canadian Met Tech Forecasters, who are non-commissioned members, are typically employed as briefers.

Warrant Officer Glen Slauenwhite, a Met Tech Forecaster deployed on Operation Presence in Mali, has changed all of that. In early August, he was formally licensed by the German meteorology contingent to analyze, forecast and report on the weather using German national assets.

WO Slauenwhite is forecaster qualified in Canada, however this is the first time that another nation has recognized these credentials. It’s a huge step forward for the Met Tech trade, and could open new doors for employing Canadian military forecasters in multi-national settings in the future.

“The Germans are currently working to establish a process to integrate different nationalities into the forecasting environment as they will be responsible for establishing the Multi-National METOC Support Group. We’ve been working closely with them to facilitate a simple process for determining the competences and skills required to recognize Canadian Met Tech Forecaster in this and other opportunities,” said Carmen Snyder, Director, Meteorology and Oceanography at Canadian Forces Intelligence Command.

For his part, WO Slauenwhite has had a very welcoming experience with his Bundeswehr teammates saying that “they have been nothing short of amazing”. To share the work-load by cross-training personnel and to make good use of multinational assets speaks to the greater co-operation between nations deployed as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA.)

The impact of forecasters in Mali cannot be understated. Meteorological information supports flight operations, the transportation and handling of dangerous goods, personnel health and well-being, infrastructure management, as well as vehicle and dismounted movements of our partner nations.

WO Slauenwhite admits that aviation forecasting is not easy in this environment. “Weather systems grow exponentially and can run unhindered for hundreds and thousands of kilometers, over the flat and hot surface of the sub-Saharan landscape. It’s been described as watching a pot of water boil and then trying to determine where the next bubble will rise.”

Operation PRESENCE – Mali is the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) contribution to MINUSMA. This is part of the Government of Canada’s overall efforts to help set conditions for durable peace, development, and prosperity in Mali.

Image gallery

  • A Canadian soldier looks at a computer while a German soldier talks on the phone.
  • Two Canadian soldiers stand beside a red balloon. One of them is talking into a two-way radio.
  • Behind a Canadian peacekeeper, a small group of other Canadian peacekeepers stand in formation.
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