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Operations Group welcomes new commander

Col. Mick McGuire, left, 162nd Fighter Wing commander, passes the 162nd Operations Group flag to Lt. Col. Andrew MacDonald as a symbol of his assumption of command Feb. 6. The operations group, consisting of three flying squadrons and about 70 instructor pilots, trains international F-16 pilots at Tucson International Airport. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Col. Mick McGuire, left, 162nd Fighter Wing commander, passes the 162nd Operations Group flag to Lt. Col. Andrew MacDonald as a symbol of his assumption of command Feb. 6. The operations group, consisting of three flying squadrons and about 70 instructor pilots, trains international F-16 pilots at Tucson International Airport. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Lt. Col. Andrew MacDonald, 162nd Operations Group commander, salutes Col. Mick McGuire, the wing commander, after assuming command of the group Feb. 6. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Lt. Col. Andrew MacDonald, 162nd Operations Group commander, salutes Col. Mick McGuire, the wing commander, after assuming command of the group Feb. 6. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Lt. Col. Andrew MacDonald addresses family, friends and fellow Guardsmen as the new 162nd Operations Group commander Feb. 6. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Lt. Col. Andrew MacDonald addresses family, friends and fellow Guardsmen as the new 162nd Operations Group commander Feb. 6. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The 162nd Operations Group, the largest F-16 fighter training unit in the Air National Guard, welcomed its new commander Feb. 6.

Lt. Col. Andrew MacDonald, who previously commanded the group's 148th Fighter Squadron, ceremoniously accepted the unit flag from the 162nd Fighter Wing Commander Col. Mick McGuire before an auditorium full of family, friends, fighter pilots and support personnel.

"He has a long history of service in the United States Marine Corps, and has been a proud member of the Arizona Guard for the last 13 years," said Colonel McGuire during the assumption of command. "He's served in a lot of different functions in the wing and I know that a lot of you have history with him and I'm absolutely confident that each of you will do all that you can to make sure the group continues to be successful."

MacDonald began his career as a MarineĀ EA-6B Prowler pilot before joining the 162nd. Most recently he was responsible for training United Arab Emirates pilots in the F-16E Desert Falcon and later Dutch pilots in the F-16 Mid Life Update version of the multi-role fighter.

Today, he's responsible for three flying squadrons that conduct training for the United States Air Force as well as partner nation air force pilots from Singapore, Morocco, Korea, Norway, Chile and the Netherlands.

"We train international student pilots, we build partnerships, and it's amazing what we do here," said Colonel MacDonald. "In the Operations Group there are 60-plus pilots and they are the cream of the crop. We're talking 4,000-hour plus guys. They write the books when it comes to being a fighter pilot."

He also noted that the group's enlisted and support officers, as well as civilian contractors, manage a workload comparable to that of a major active duty Air Force installation with about one-third of the manpower and resources.

"From me you'll get honesty and you're going to get the best that I can do," said MacDonald to the group. "When faced with a tough decision I'm going to ask for your help and listen to you to reach a sound decision. I appreciate you all. Let's press on."