Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's Not All Bad

Following is a note from a friend and fellow United States Army Reserve Officer serving in Iraq. He is a Civil Affairs officer working as a liaison between Iraqi officials, contractors, the U.S. Government and a myriad of other agencies and organizations. This is a tough job but I can think of no one better qualified to do it than my friend, "Tijuana" (call sign).

"I can’t believe it is June already. Time is going by very fast.

In the last 30 days I have started to get to know my job fairly well. We have processes in place when dealing with the Provincial Governor’s Team (with action item lists). I have a reconstruction engineering team that works to ensure we spend Iraqi money before we spend US Government money. I have met quite a few mayors, deputy mayors, muktars, sheikh’s and other leaders in these communities. I feel like we are engaging at the right level to make a difference. In our spare time, we recommend projects and help with local businesses like setting up internet cafĂ©’s for profit, bridal shops, sewing associations that benefit widows and a few others that are in-work. I am currently the project manager for 28 projects worth over $600k (some Iraqi funded, some US funded).

The work is rewarding and very time consuming. I have spent the last week at our Tal Afar branch office sitting in for the Team Leader while he is on vacation. Being integrated so closely with the district and sub-district governments really adds flexibility and being able to propose new ideas quickly. The good always comes with the bad, I was stuck out at a checkpoint on the Syrian border in very austere conditions for a night trying to get back to our branch office yesterday so I am just now catching up on my workload.

Things are moving fast and the drawdown is happening all around me. Mid-tour leave will be here in less than 3-months – can’t wait. "

-- Tijuana

It's great to hear news from someone with "boots on the ground," particularly when it is positive. It is far too easy to get sucked in by all the sensationalism that is on network television and in print media. Dispatchs such as this give us reason for hope and optimism.

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