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Mission complete: Ops renovation comes to an end

Airman 1st Class Vanessa Weisbrod sets up work stations in the 162nd Operations Group command support section in the newly-renovated building 44 on base, Dec. 12. After more than a year without a central facility, Airmen here are beginning to move into their permanent offices. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Airman 1st Class Vanessa Weisbrod sets up work stations in the 162nd Operations Group command support section in the newly-renovated building 44 on base, Dec. 12. After more than a year without a central facility, Airmen here are beginning to move into their permanent offices. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Master Sgt. Don Lauver works on an oxygen mask in the newly-refurbished aircrew flight equipment section in building 44, Dec. 12. The 162nd Operations Group facility at Tucson International Airport is opening back up for business after a much needed $5 million renovation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Master Sgt. Don Lauver works on an oxygen mask in the newly-refurbished aircrew flight equipment section in building 44, Dec. 12. The 162nd Operations Group facility at Tucson International Airport is opening back up for business after a much needed $5 million renovation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Lt. Col. Ken Rosson, 162nd Operations Group deputy commander, hangs family photos on the wall of his new office in building 44 on base at the 162nd Fighter Wing. The newly-renovated building will once again be home to the majority of the wing's pilot training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Lt. Col. Ken Rosson, 162nd Operations Group deputy commander, hangs family photos on the wall of his new office in building 44 on base at the 162nd Fighter Wing. The newly-renovated building will once again be home to the majority of the wing's pilot training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Air Guardsmen are accustomed to adapting and overcoming obstacles in order to accomplish the mission. As such, the recent renovation of the operations group facilities located here in building 44 was a mere bump in the road for members of the 162nd Fighter Wing.

Reconstruction of the building's interior began in September, 2010, and is finishing up now as tenants move from temporary offices back into their permanent locations.

"The biggest challenge with the renovation was losing the centralized operations group to seven temporary facilities throughout the wing," said Lt. Col. Andrew MacDonald, 162nd Operations Group commander. "We were able to continue the mission by finding new ways to communicate between various sections."

"The largest benefit of the new building will be the eventual co-location of the 152nd and 195th Fighter Squadrons into this facility. This will streamline operations and improve efficiencies," he said.

The $5 million project included replacing the roof, upgrading heating and cooling systems, and the reorganization of offices, said Lt. Col. Kevin Wilhelm, program manager for the remodel.

"The biggest changes were to provide for better usability and security," Wilhelm said. "The workflow within the space was terrible before. You had to actually go through a men's restroom to get from one office to another."

"Also, it's critical to control where people go and what they see. Our security is now at a level that better meets requirements."

While the physical changes to the renovation - such as walls that were knocked down or erected - are the most obvious, the costlier effects are mostly unseen.

"Building 44 was originally two buildings that were piecemealed together," said Wilhelm. "Most of the money went to mechanical and power distribution changes, and HVAC [heating, ventilation, and air condition] system improvements."

Some design modifications created a new layout for offices and shops. The main entrance on the west side of the building will still be home to the operations group and operations support flight command staff. The east side of the building will be occupied by aircrew flight equipment and the international military student office.

The downstairs portion of the renovated building will now be shared by three sections. The 152nd Fighter Squadron will occupy the north side of the basement, the 195th Fighter Squadron will be located in the south section of the basement, and the intelligence section will be between the two squadrons.

With the intent of keeping most flying operations within one building, an additional change may be to keep the command post in its new location near the wing commander's office in building 1 as opposed to moving it back to the operations group.

"We're finally putting people where they need to be," said Wilhelm. "The command post should be nearer to the commander," he said.

With the new facility open, the group plans to keep the 148th Fighter Squadron in its current location in building 40, commonly referred to as the Bell Building. In the east side of building 40, the group will install the newly-designated 162nd Training Squadron.

The new squadron, commanded by Lt. Col. Alex Wilson, will be responsible for all student pilot syllabus and academic requirements and consists of both Lockheed Martin and wing personnel.

Building 15, known as the Tucson Air Guard Recreation Association, or TAGRA, will open back up for general use and base activities.

"I really need to thank Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm, Maj. Bryan Rhodes, Maj. Aaron James, the civil engineer squadron, the state contracting office, the communication flight, and all other wing personnel that played a part in making this a reality," said MacDonald.