Military Meteorology and the New Zealand Defence Force Strategic Vision
A tsunami has obliterated villages of a Pacific Island nation, rendering hundreds homeless and without the basics for survival. Debris litters the runway of the local airport rendering it unusable. HMNZS CANTERBURY (Figure 1) anchors off the coast, under clear skies and no wind, to provide humanitarian assistance. Yet the ship and her company are unable to help those ashore because the calm air and the swell rolling in from the south have put the ship out of limits for launch and recovery of both the helicopter and the landing craft. The METOC (meteorologist and oceanographer) forecasts the wind to pick up and the swell to ease by midnight, but until moonrise at 0340 it will be too dark for night vision goggle operations. The METOC identifies two possible sites for the landing craft to beach that will not be subject to dangerous surf. Navies have long exploited METOC information. In the early years the emphasis was on ship safety, and then with the advent of naval aviation, aeronautical safety was included in this growth area. The discipline has now matured into a war-fighting tool where ‘failure to acknowledge the importance of environmental conditions has played a role in many failed military operations that were otherwise well planned and executed’ (Committee on Environmental Information for Naval Use, 2003).