METOC conference looks back on Olympics, forward on climate change

By Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher NORAD and U.S. NORTHCOM Public Affairs

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PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – More than 40 meteorological and oceanographic officials from NORAD and USNORTHCOM subordinate commands and agency partners are participating in the annual Meteorological and Oceanographic Conference this week.

The conference brings together members of NORAD and NORTHCOM, the Department of Energy, National Guard Bureau, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian Directorate of Meteorology and Oceanography.

“The annual conference provides the component and subordinate METOC forces of both commands the opportunity to provide updates to the senior METOC officer and raise issues for the commands to address in the next year,” said Lt. Col. James Rickman, USNORTHCOM senior METOC officer.

Colonel Rickman said this year’s conference has three focuses: Reviewing recent METOC support for the Vancouver Olympics, improving future planning functions and discussing METOC’s role in supporting USNORTHCOM’s response to the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review’s call for developing a strategic approach to climate change.

“The QDR wants the Department of Defense to prepare for the security challenges associated with the extreme conditions which anomalous climate events produce,” Rickman explained. “USNORTHCOM METOC forces must be aware of the meteorological and oceanographic trends occurring in our AOR and keep the commander aware of those trends.”

The senior METOC officer’s first responsibility is to be the focal point for joint force METOC support. By bringing the component and subordinate METOC forces together to work out issues, makes that job easier and enable us to better prepare for METOC operations for future contingencies, he added.

“Ultimately, the conference facilitates our ability to ensure that the right capabilities are in place at the right time to support the commander’s missions within the area of responsibility,” he said.