Polish military leader visits base, student fighter pilots

Polish Army Maj. Gen. Andrzej Falkowski, the Polish Defense Attaché to Washington D.C., tries on an F-16 pilot’s helmet equipped with the joint helmet-mounted cueing system with help from Master Sgt. Don Lauver while Polish Army Gen. Mieczyslaw Cieniuch (right), Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, observes Jan. 12.

TUCSON, Ariz. -- As part of a whirlwind tour of U.S. military commands, the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, Gen. Mieczysław Cieniuch, visited the 162nd Fighter Wing here at Tucson International Airport Jan. 12.

In terms of military equivalents, General Cieniuch is Poland's highest-ranking military officer and is the Polish counterpart to U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We've trained F-16 pilots from Poland here since 2004, and it's an honor to show their senior leaders first-hand the quality of our training wing, our personnel and our equipment," said Col. Mick McGuire, 162nd Fighter Wing commander.

Other dignitaries who travelled with General Cieniuch were Army Maj. Gen. Andrzej Falkowski, the Polish Defense Attaché to Washington D.C., and Army Brig. Gen. Sławomir Wojciechowski, Polish Deputy Chief of Operational Planning.

Wing leaders escorted the Polish delegation around the Arizona Air National Guard base, which included visits to aircraft maintenance and operations facilities, the highlight of which were flights in the wing's state-of-the-art F-16 flight simulators - a key aspect of flight training for Polish student pilots.

General Cieniuch stopped for lunch at the 162nd Fighter Wing Dining Facility, where he dined with base leaders and Polish student pilots before heading to nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to tour the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, or "boneyard," which is home to more than 4,400 military aircraft.

The event-filled itinerary for General Cieniuch concluded with dinner amongst 162nd Fighter Wing base leadership and spouses, as well distinguished civic and community leaders.

General Cieniuch's trip to Tucson was preceded by a two-day visit to Washington D.C. in which he was presented the Legion of Merit award by General Dempsey for his leadership with the cooperation, understanding and relationship between the armed forces of the United States and Poland. 

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