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Maintenance officer takes on embassy tour

Capt. Andrew Chilcoat, a maintenance officer for the 162nd Fighter Wing, will represent the Arizona National Guard as a bilateral affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan for one year. The exchange program supports Arizona's relations with its Central Asian partner state in the Partnership for Peace program. (Air National Guard photo by Capt. Gabe Johnson)

Capt. Andrew Chilcoat, a maintenance officer for the 162nd Fighter Wing, will represent the Arizona National Guard as a bilateral affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan for one year. The exchange program supports Arizona's relations with its Central Asian partner state in the Partnership for Peace program. (Air National Guard photo by Capt. Gabe Johnson)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The emerging nation of Kazakhstan will soon rely on a 162nd Fighter Wing maintenance officer to coordinate its State Partnership Program activities.

Capt. Andrew Chilcoat will serve as the Arizona National Guard's representative to the Central Asian government during a one-year overseas tour. He'll work at the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan's capitol city, as a bilateral affairs officer.

Chilcoat's duties will be to support the Partnership for Peace planning process to help Kazakhstan develop goals for what they would like to accomplish through the NGB program. Working with his host country, Central Command, the State Department and the Arizona National Guard, the captain will organize information and personnel exchanges in the areas of logistics, security, country drug and vehicle maintenance to name a few.

"The strength of the state partnership program is that state National Guards can provide their partner country with a consistency of personnel to support their partnership programs for years," said Captain Chilcoat. "Those countries will be able to reach back here to us for years to come, and the same Guardsmen will be here to help and foster the international relationship."

According to Chilcoat, who has served in overseas assignments in Korea and Turkey, this one-year unaccompanied tour is a chance to make a difference.

"It's an exciting and unique opportunity to make a lasting impact on a growing program," he said. "I'd like to see these exchange assignments open up for other Arizona National Guardsmen."

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet Republic, is a relatively new independent state with a growing economy. The national language is Kazakh, however the business language used is still Russian.

"I plan on learning as much Russian as I can while I'm there," he said.

Chilcoat's wife, Erika, a researcher specialist at Arizona Cancer Center, will remain in Tucson to continue her work in cancer research.

"Aftre six weeks of training and spin-up at CENTCOM, I'll leave in June for a one year assignment that may possibly turn into two years," he said. "I'll miss my family and friends here in Tucson; however, the nature of this job and the tie with the Arizona National Guard means I'll be traveling back to Arizona frequently."