Tuesday, June 19, 2007

early frustrations

It's been a while since I last posted, as I have been struggling with what I want to write about when I do post again. The last few weeks have been more frustrating then not, but there are some good days mixed in.

Much of the frustration I have been feeling stems from my job here. To begin with, I'm not even 100% sure what the full scope of my job is. Officially they call me the OPS O, or operations officer, for the Iraqi National Supply Depot. This part of my job involves coordinating the receiving and shipment of just about all the supplies for the Iraqi Army. Correction: I am the Ops O advisor. Actually, there are two officers in this job, both Iraqi majors. One is awesome to work with - humble, smart, willing to learn and also willing to teach. We have a very good relationship. The other Major, however, is a little more difficult. He is a good enough guy, but my perception is that he wants to fight everything and he wants to me to agree with him about it. For example, when we receive a shipment of supplies, its common practice to go inspect a few things and make sure that we aren't getting crap. Everytime I go out with this major, though, he says "no good". "What do you mean 'no good'", I ask. "No good! Crappy Material - made in China!" Everytime! I cant convince this guy that some stuff IS good! I understand wanting to receive good supplies, but I cant quite pass along the concept of getting what you pay for. If we buy $15 desks, they aren't going to be solid oak construction! I often find myself wondering if he wants to reject it so they don't have to offload it in the hot part of the day. Cynical of me, but I still wonder. Granted, it's been around 115 degrees consistently, but we all have a job to do. Which is why the 1st Major and I get along so well - when something is truly shoddy, like sneakers with soles falling off of them, we reject it. If there is work to be done and 75 vehicles to be offloaded, we work through lunch or late into the night and get it done. I suppose its like any where - you have your good people and your bad people.

On a positive note, we have had a couple fun nights with the Iraqi officers. One Friday night they invited about 6 of us to dinner and told us they killed a sheep fresh for us. It was funny to watch everyone's face try to pretend to be excited when inside their thinking - a sheep!? We got to their area around dark and they had a big fire pit going nice and hot, while another person was cutting the sheep meat into little cubes for kabobs. They skewered the meat and cooked it over the fire until it was pretty charred, and then served it with flat pita like bread, vegetables, olives, and some hummus. It was actually a very good meal - I ate alot! Almost as surprising was that my stomach did not feel any worse for the wear afterwards. The conversation was also pretty interesting. Some of the Iraqi officers speak decent English so they acted as interpreters for the rest of those who don't speak any English. I continue to sharpen my Arabic, and I was pretty happy when they commented on how impressed they are with my progress. We talked about everything from Soccer to politics and it's really interesting to get their point of view. For example, the officers we were talking to are fully aware that outside influences are causing havoc trying to ignite sectarian violence, as in the mosque bombings in Samarra. It's interesting to me, at least, because it offers at least a faint glimmer that people in Iraq understand. I know that the opinions are coming from officers in their army, so they are a little more educated and have access to info that others don't, so they are able to comprehend the situation better too.

I still have more to write but I am going to close out this blog because we are due for a power outage here soon. I still have to write about my trip to the IZ in Baghdad and the other 7 jobs I am doing! (ok, its only like 3 other things, but they keep me busy!)


Doug said...

I noticed that there were no comments so i just wanted to send a BIG THANKS for sharing your experiences with us(or at least me).

I still hope that enough Iraqis can get their heads out of their asses long enough to see that they are busily pissing away a once in a millennium opportunity, but sometimes you just have to wonder how one small region got so FUBARED. And seemingly wants to stay that way.

But as long as the guys at the front keep the faith, I guess the rest of us can at least tag along.

Thanks again and stay safe

pete dawg said...

Thank you for your blog. I check up on it every other day. It's difficult to bring a country that's been backward and oppressed for so long into the modern democrat world. Don't ever give up hope. There are people all over America that the media ignores that pray for you and the success of the mission. I believe that you will succeed and 20 years from now you can "brag" that you were there. God Bless you and your family.

Pete Dawg