Tuesday, August 03, 2010

July Update from "Tijuana" -- Reservists Have a Lot to Offer

As is often the case, a reservist generally brings a variety of skills to his/her military profession that an ordinary active duty Soldier cannot. This point was recently highlighted by LTG Jack Stultz during a visit to the Horn of Africa.

"The thing that impresses me with these civil affairs teams, you have these young captains and sergeants out there on their own just doing great stuff for the local [African] community, whether it is building schools, or digging wells ... just a lot of good things improving lives of citizens," said Stultz.

"What they bring to the table is their civilian background," Schultz said. "A lot of these civil affairs NCOs and officers are law enforcement or they teach. They bring that skill actually to the civil affairs community, the individuals they are working with and the community they're in. So it is important."

Stultz is keenly aware of the importance of Reservists to the U.S. Army, and all branch services. "We see it over and over again, the real value that's added with the Reserve Soldier, whether it is Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force Reserve. It's not the military skills, although that's part of it, but the added value is the civilian skills. You'll find out your radioman or civil affairs Soldier back home is a lawyer, or they may be some kind of information technology guru," he said.

-- From a Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Larry Foos. Read more...

Here are "Tijuana's" observations and perspetives from his July, 2010 work in Iraq.

"As July comes to a close I wanted to thank everyone for your support of the military and the mission that we have over here. My role keeps me constantly involved in programs designed to build the capacity of the Iraqi government and rebuild some of the neglected infrastructure. Luckily with all of the training I received at my civilian job, I am able to successfully negotiate contract closures with the Iraqi officials. That is not a skill that many other military, state department, justice dept. or USAID folks have in my Provincial Reconstruction Team. My job consists of projects, programs, contracts, vendor selections, non-conformance, contractual closure...Essentially I am helping to finish the work we started and making sure we conclude our projects/programs with successful results.

In several of my civilian corporate meetings before I mobilized, we had tense moments and even yelled, walked out of meetings and generally took a strong stance. Over here, negotiation with a loaded weapon on my side and equally armed opponents makes the situation a little bit more difficult. The same principles apply and my old boss Tammy’s voice hits me every time, “what is your strategy.” Maybe I’ll learn something from this.

I spent a week in Baghdad earlier this month for training at the embassy compound and also spent a few days in Kirkuk (another province here in the North). The pictures of agriculture, farming and actual terrain features is not the Iraq you are expecting. The northern parts are very different from the deserts of the south.

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I have included some pictures from a recent trip where we are rebuilding a medical clinic that should be done within the next 90 days accepting patients. Some of the other pictures are taken from the air – so nobody is allowed to tell my mom that they are letting us ride around in Hueys with the doors open (just like they did it over 40 years ago). I think I logged about a thousand miles with the doors open this month. I prefer to fly with the military in blackhawks instead of the state dept. in Huey’s.

Yes, that is a rubber duckie…his name is Rambo.

The picture of my watch shows the temperature of 112 degrees…it was much cooler in the air that day!"

~~ Tijuana