The Utah Air National Guard dedicated a new $1.7 million facility for the 169th Electronic Security Squadron at the Salt Lake International Airport Tuesday.

"Moving into this beautiful new building represents an end to nearly four years of waiting, of working in cramped, temporary office space," said Lt. Col. Mike Abel, squadron commander.The facility ended up costing $1.1 million less than was originally programmed. "We are thrilled to have built such a functional, well-designed operations building, while at the same time saving taxpayers' money," Abel said.

The 169th is the newest component of the Utah Air Guard, activated in April 1987, and is the only unit of its kind outside of active-duty forces. Its mission is to provide tactical airborne command, control and communications countermeasures support to U.S. and allied forces.

Unit members fly on Air Force and National Guard aircraft to conduct defensive studies of U.S. communications. They also develop and apply techniques to ensure communications are secure and protected from hostile countermeasures, according to the National Guard.

The 169th was one of the first Utah Air Guard units to deploy forces to the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield. On Aug. 8, less than one week after Iraq invaded Kuwait, unit aircrew members left Utah with 22 members eventually deployed to seven countries. 169th aircrew members flew over 1,200 combat hours during Operation Desert Storm. Several unit members came home from the Middle East and have since returned to Saudi Arabia for six-month tours. Three unit members are also in Japan replacing active-duty forces still in the Gulf region.