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Arizona's Tanker wing welcomes new commander

Col. Troy Daniels, commander of the 161st Air Refueling Wing, addresses the audience during the wing’s change of command ceremony at Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base, Dec. 5. The change of command ceremony is rooted in military history, dating back to the 18th century. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Deitloff)

Col. Troy Daniels, commander of the 161st Air Refueling Wing, addresses the audience during the wing’s change of command ceremony at Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base, Dec. 5. The change of command ceremony is rooted in military history, dating back to the 18th century. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Deitloff)

PHOENIX -- Col. Troy Daniels assumed command of the 161st Air Refueling Wing from Col. Gary Brewer, Jr., during a change of command ceremony Dec. 5 at Phoenix Air National Guard Base.

A change of command is one of the rare moments in a military career where both the outgoing and incoming commanders receive special acknowledgement for their service - a legacy is cemented, while a new vision begins to unfold.

There has been a long line of dedicated commanders of the Stratotanker unit, and Daniels said he will do his best to continue that tradition.

"It is truly an honor and a privilege to be able to be a part of this wing," said Daniels. "The 161st has a long history of excellence and to be able to join you is an extremely exciting opportunity. I'd like to thank Col. Brewer for handing off such a superior wing. He's obviously done an outstanding job."

Daniels told the wing's Airmen he has three key expectations for them and the wing as a whole: strength of character, caring and continual improvement.

"To me, strength of character is loaded with terms like integrity, honor, dedication, and honesty; doing the right thing and being dependable. Though those words describe strength of character, there are additional attributes. Things like living the golden rule: you need to treat others like you want to be treated. You need to make those tough decisions. Sometimes those tough decisions are very difficult, but in the end you need to wake up every morning, face yourself in the mirror and know that you have given your best effort; that you have made the best decisions possible. Do that day after day. Have the courage to act."

He said the expectation of caring means Airmen need to care for themselves, for each other, and for the unit and its mission.

"If you don't take care of yourself then you are unable to take care of other people," said Daniels. "Professionally, be ready to advance to the next level. Do those things that prepare you for the next step in your career. When you are caring for others, be that wingman. You have to be there for the warrior that's next to you. Help others professionally so that they are ready to advance to the next level as well. When you care for our unit and our mission, take ownership, this is your wing. It will become what you make of it. So take ownership of the wing and bring it up to the next level as well."

Taking the wing to the next level is part of Daniels' third expectation of continual improvement.

"My vision is to be able to take this wing, as excellent as it is, and continue to be the best year after year," he said. "In order to do so, we cannot stagnate. We need to be able to relish in the success we've had so far, but we also need to advance with every opportunity we get. In order to do that, we need to critique ourselves. Critiquing is hard, making those tough decisions, but that is how we get better; and little-by-little, step-by-step we will continue to advance. Continual improvement is what will set us up for the long term. This vision of long-term success, the vision of long-term viability, for our wing, takes the entire wing. Every one of your actions matter, no matter what your position is, no matter what your rank is, every single one of you matter and every action you take matters and helps set us up for long-term success."

Daniels flew F-16 Fighting Falcons and T-38 Talons on active duty for 10 years.  In 2000, he joined the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing headquartered at Tucson International Airport.

Brig. Gen. Edward Maxwell, Arizona Air National Guard commander, said watching Daniels lead, he's realized his focus lies with the Airmen - he bases his decisions on what thinks is best for the morale and motivation of his unit.

"He has a desire to lead and support Airmen, whether it is in a fighter unit, a maintenance unit or a reconnaissance unit, it doesn't matter," said Maxwell. "He wants to lead Airmen. I can promise you a couple things. He will represent your wing incredibly well - I've seen him do it. He will listen to your input, he will consider it, and he will count on it."

Ending his remarks, Daniels expressed how excited he is to be here and how thrilled he is to be a part of the wing.

"I'm thoroughly impressed with every person I've met so far thoroughly impressed with everything about this wing and I expect that to continue," said Daniels.