Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Onion

The honeymoon phase is over. We are slowly realizing that this place is sort of like an onion - everytime we peel away one layer, we discover another layer underneath - and they all make us want to cry. For example, a few posts ago I wrote about my frustration with the Iraqi major who insists on turning away all of the supplies before they even enter our compound. I couldn't figure out why he was so stringent on the quality of products, and it was driving me crazy. He was turning away perfectly good supplies for no reason! One day I'd finally had enough. In the 115 degree heat, we spent 45 minutes climbing in and out of trucks looking at what we were about to receive. Everything looked good to me, no different then what we'd get on the coalition side of base. The Iraqi's, however, didn't think so, and tried to turn the trucks away. After a heated argument, I made them allow the trucks in because I wasn't going to be responsible for jeopardizing the drivers’ safety. Seeing my frustration, one Iraqi that I trust pulled me aside and gave me some inside info, which was later verified through another source who came to me in confidence. Apparently, there are some Iraqi's here who demand bribes from the drivers in order to let them into our compound to deliver their supplies. Most drivers pay, because if they are turned away they face the repercussion of not being paid by their employer, with the added danger of having to drive the dangerous roads. So, now I have to figure out how to stop this. It seems to be a directive from some of the top officers, which makes changing the procedure difficult. Some people think it’s just a cultural thing and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Great attitude! Let’s promote corruption by taking the attitude that if we can’t stop it, ignore it! Well, I refuse to accept this and am currently looking for ways to catch them in the act. Easier said then done, though.

To further improve my morale, I learned the reason I was called up was due to gross personnel mismanagement by the reserve unit I am attached to. Here's the story, confirmed by the unit: When notified to deploy, the 104th scoured their list of qualified candidates and cross leveled and determined that they didn't have enough Captains to fill mission requirements. They put a request into Human resource Command (HRC), who proceeded to fill the unit needs by recalling the requested officers from the Inactive Ready Reserve. The rest is obviously history - I got my telegram and reported as ordered and here I am. Here's the catch, though. After receiving the requested fill from HRC, the 104th realized that they did in fact have enough officers to fill the mission. So, they contacted HRC and told them that the IRR recalls were no longer necessary because they had enough people. The response from HRC: Sorry, too late. You asked for them, so you got them. So what did the 104th do? They sent home their own people. *Note* - This happened while were still in Ft. Riley, so I try not to dwell on this too much, but I do find it disheartening at times, particularly when I talk to Rachael or my parents and think about how much I miss them. Oh well - just another stepping stone in life I guess. This time next year I'll be laughing at the situation and have an even further appreciation for all that I'm blessed with in life!


Joe Donato said...

I agree with your stand on corruption, especially when it stairs you in the face, Its hard to hear that our treasure and our precious military lives are at stake fighting for Iraq freedom.
I do have faith that our military in most cases they don’t look the other way.
The Iraq people have a though way to go, but they should not be allowed to continue this type ( culture) while building a democracy .

Sorry to hear about the HR SNAFU. I hope some corrections are made and maybe we’ll see you sooner , good luck.

Jason said...

I do have faith that a good democracy can be built here. It's not all Iraqi's that believe in corruption and bribes, as is evidenced by several of them coming to be about the problem. They risk their lives when they do something like that, but they do it so that a better Iraq can be built with our help.

As for the HR snafu, no chance of it getting corrected. It would have had to happen before we deployed, and believe me, we tried.

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/12/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.