Friday, February 13, 2009

Gettin' Short

I still find it hard to believe that in a couple of weeks, I'll be leaving the Embassy, my home for the past six months.  But it's true.  I'm trying to wind up my projects and get them into decent shape for handover to another guy in the office.  I've been busily making travel arrangements for the trip home.  And I've been filling out forms and taking online courses like a madman to get all the Corps of Engineer's employment and deployment requirements met.  Meanwhile, Janis has been making appointments for me at home to get tax stuff done, some dental work done, and more forms to get filled out.  With all this busyness, there's no time to sit and think about what it all means.

I was told, when I was going through the State Department training last summer, that everything in Iraq was in a constant state of change.  That has been borne out.  If it's not the Iraqis changing things, it's us ... and if not us, then the Iraqis.  I arrived when our offices were still in the Palace but we were starting to live in the new Embassy compound.  Now the Palace is back in the Iraqi's hands and we live and work at the Embassy.  The old BX has been turned over as well.  During the next year, more US compounds in the International Zone will go away.  The commands will consolidate onto fewer FOBs, or move out of the IZ entirely, or even leave the country.  Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who has headed the Embassy for two years, is leaving.  Our mission in Iraq is probably going to change in a big way very soon, since President Obama has stated his intention of drawing down the American presence fairly quickly.  And the Iraqis are gradually assuming more and more control over their own affairs.

That's not to say things are going smoothly.  Today a female suicide bomber killed herself and 40 other people, mostly women and children, who were on a religious pilgrimage to Karbala, south of Baghdad.  There are bombings in the city every day, mostly targeting police, judges, and prominent political leaders.  Corruption is still rampant throughout the government.  And venturing beyond the FOBs and the IZ is still dangerous, both for Americans and everybody else.

I'm happy with my decision to leave the State Department and go to the Corps, though.  I'm looking forward to getting more involved in planning and doing, rather than monitoring, which is what my job has entailed up to now.  I'm also hoping that I can get around the country more.  And the military mentality of the Corps is more in line with my own way of thinking than is the State Department's essentially political mentality.   Looking at the general plans for the Corps, the military, and construction projects for the next six to twelve months, I'm excited about the possibilities and opportunities ahead.

But right now, my room is a mess.  I'm starting to sort my stuff out.  I'll put a good bit of it into boxes and take it over to the Corps during my last couple of days here.  Some will go back home with me, and some will just get dumped.  Unfortunately, it seems like I still need all the stuff in the "take it to the Corps" and the "dump it" piles!  So I'm gonna have to live in a pigpen for a while.  Some things just don't change ...

1 comment:

Shea said...

that's cool that you get to visit home again, being able to visit home a couple times a year I think would make it much more bearable, and I assume that the money's not bad either,
Good luck to you, although you don't need it, in your knew Corp job. and Happy valentines day.