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Guard Association to honor AZ air refueling support team

Staff Sgt. Benedict Barroga, 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels technician, analyses fuel as part of a fuel quality control test, 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix, Jan. 29, 2015. This test ensures fuel additives are present and in the specified quantities. The fuel is tested when the base initially received it, as well as twice a month, to ensure that the fuel received here meets the highest standards required by the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin/Released)

Staff Sgt. Benedict Barroga, a fuels technician assigned to the 161st Mission Support Group, analyses fuel during a fuel quality control test at the 161st Air Refueling Wing, in Phoenix, Jan. 29, 2015. Barroga, and his fellow mission support group members, will receive the National Guard Association of the United States’ Distinguished Mission Support Plaque at the association’s national convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Sept. 10-13. Ensuring fuel quality supports the overall wing mission to deliver about 3 million gallons of fuel to roughly 1,600 airborne aircraft per year. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin)

PHOENIX -- The 161st Mission Support Group - Airmen who help sustain the Arizona Air National Guard's air refueling mission at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport - will receive the National Guard Association of the United States' Distinguished Mission Support Plaque at the association's national convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Sept. 10-13.

Every year the National Guard Association of the United States, or NGAUS, gives the prestigious award to outstanding Guard units in a mission support role. The group, part of the 161st Air Refueling Wing, is a vital force behind the wing's air refueling, cargo transport, passenger transport, and emergency evacuation missions.

"This is truly a team award," said Col. Kyle Kobashigawa, the group commander. "This reflects on our very diverse contributions in logistics, civil engineering, security forces, communications, force support, environmental stewardship and contracting. It is also a credit to the efforts of the entire wing."

Word of the NGAUS recognition arrived shortly after the National Guard Bureau announced that the group's security team earned the 2014 Air National Guard Security Forces Squadron of the Year award. The unit's recruiting and retention team also recently won Patriot Team and Outstanding Family Readiness Program awards.

In 2014, security forces, civil engineers, and aerial port units deployed 20 percent of the group's Airmen to six-month rotations in Southwest Asia.

Through multiple State Partnership Program exchanges, the mission support group helped develop the Republic of Kazakhstan's deployment processes, professional development programs, and civil engineer tactics and procedures. Airmen also traveled to the Central Asian nation to help their military forces establish new human resource management and training programs to assist the country's transition from a Soviet-era conscription military force to an American modeled all-volunteer force.

Civil engineers, contracting specialists, and force support personnel programed, designed, and procured construction of a new base fitness center; the first stand-alone fitness center built on an Air National Guard base after a base's original construction.

"The achievements of the mission support group over the last year, combined with those of our sister units within the wing, add up to outstanding mission success for our state and nation," said Kobashigawa. "The 161st Mission Support Group consistently earns outstanding results during inspections and exercises, conducts efficient and immediate response to contingencies, benefits from the positive attitudes and professionalism of its deployers, and appreciates the support it gets from the entire wing."

Arizona's air refueling wing is a world-premier tanker and mobility force for the state and nation. The 161st, located on a 60-acre parcel on the southwest edge of the Phoenix airport, is a stand-alone operational Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker unit with eight refueling aircraft.

The wing deploys globally, landing and operating in both foreign and domestic soil in order to support multinational military and humanitarian missions, flying an average of 3,800 hours annually. In 2015, the wing is on track to fly 4,695 hours, the majority in support of overseas contingencies.