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the weather bureau record of war administration part 10

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Defense Meteorological Committee.--The continued Nazi aggression in Europe brought up the question of operating our national weather service in a way that would be most effective in contributing to the National Defense Program of 1940.

To accomplish this objective, a letter initiated by the Weather Bureau on July 1, 1940, was sent by the Secretary of Commerce to the Navy and War Departments, offering the full cooperation of the Weather Bureau in preparing an adequate training and operations program to meet emergency meteorological needs of the military services. The Secretaries of those Departments concurred in this proposal and appointed representatives to confer with the Weather Bureau in preparing a proposed program to coordinate meteorological activities. This committee of Army, Navy and Weather Bureau members met for the first time at the Weather Bureau on July 26, 1940, but it was not until a year later that this committee was designated as the "Defense Meteorological Committee." The first questions considered were proposals for research in improvement of weather forecasting, plans for training weather forecasters, and the recruitment and allocation of trained personnel among the civil and military services. Each agency, for the time being, proceeded independently in accordance with the general plans discussed previously but the Weather Bureau made arrangements to increase the number of Bureau employees sent to universities for special advanced meteorological training mainly to strengthen its expanding forecast and research programs.

By November 1940, the Defense Meteorological Committee drafted a tentative plan for the mobilization of the Bureau's weather services according to three general situations which might develop as follows:

1. No hostilities by our forces, or relatively minor hostilities confined to distant foreign territory and waters.

2. Full-scale military operations by the United States forces with the theater of war in the Eastern Hemisphere.

3. Full civil mobilization in preparation for major hostilities in the Western Hemisphere.

This general plan was referred to the Secretaries of the Navy and War Departments for consideration with a view towards formulation of joint defense plans for the effective administration and coordination of weather service by the three departments. As a result, the former committee was reorganized to consider interdepartmental meteorological problems of the Army, Navy and Weather Bureau in connection with the national defense program early in January 1941. Meetings were then regularly held beginning in January 1941, and discussions brought out the following broad topics for further consideration:

I. Recruitment of' meteorologists for expansion of the military forces.

2. Training programs, civil and military.

3. Instrumental supplies and allocation.

4. Weather reporting station networks.

5. Collection, distribution, and exchange of weather reports.

6. Security of weather information.

Some steps had already been taken in connection with the first two of these topics, but there remained a need for the coordination of policies for continuing the projects then in operation as well as consideration of the other matters with a view toward adopting a workable joint Army-Navy-Weather Bureau policy.

To expedite action on matters requiring thorough exploration and careful planning, the Defense Meteorological Committee appointed additional personnel of the Army, Navy and Weather Bureau to serve as a Working Committee, whose functions would be to prepare detailed plans covering all phases of meteorological procedures involved in national defense and public weather service. The Civil Aeronautics Administration was represented on this Working Committee to draft plans and recommend action to the main committee. The Working Committee began to function in February 1941, by studying the questions of communication channels, handling of weather reports, and dissemination of weather information, devising plans for coding and enciphering weather reports, and restrictions on the release of weather information which would be required in order to safeguard all interests of the United States under each of the three degrees of emergency that had been suggested by the Weather Bureau in November 1940.

Although the United States was not engaged in the European struggle, it was clear that the Germans were being greatly aided in their naval and air operations in the North Atlantic through weather reports and technical data in the form of upper-air summaries broadcast from high powered U. S. Navy radio stations. Strict censorship would curtail civil meteorological service to aeronautics, agriculture, business, commerce, industry, and public welfare; and these handicaps to our own economic interests had to be weighed against the probable military advantage that unrestricted distribution of weather information might afford an unfriendly nation. The question primarily involved was controlling outbound communications in a manner that would deny information to unauthorized agencies, yet provide authorized recipients with access to necessary weather reports, etc. However, the solution to this problem involved many other factors, all of which had to be considered in working out a detailed plan of action. The Working Committee made rapid progress and drafted a tentative outline of control measures to bring about security of weather information as follows:

  • Elimination of technical data from long-range broadcasts.
  • Elimination of long-range broadcasts giving general weather information of military value.
  • Centralization of general weather analysis staffs.
  • Curtailment of weather teletype drops to private interests.
  • Elimination of private weather messages of international scope
  • Discontinuance of weather bulletins and maps published in newspapers.
  • Coordination directly with the War and Navy Departments in matters of policy through special weather Bureau channels.

This tentative plan was approved by the Defense Meteorological Committee and copies were distributed to the interested agencies of the War, Navy, and Commerce Departments for information.

NOTE.-See *The Importance of Weather In Modern Warfare," by Col. W.O. Senter, in United States at War, published by Army and Navy Journal.


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