Monday, November 28, 2016

After linked assignment.

Why did I separate myself from my family for a year and work in a war zone?  My number one reason was not money...don't get me wrong...that's not a bad reason, but for me getting a linked assignment is worth more.

People who get a PSP assignment (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan) are allowed to secure their onward before that job goes out to be bid by everyone else....meaning everyone who didn't go to a PSP.

So before I got to Baghdad I knew my onward.  In late summer 2017 I'll be the Facility Manager in....

(OBO doesn't have enough 7901 to get this building up and going.)

Friday, November 25, 2016

US Embassy Baghdad

There's a lot of interesting articles about the US Embassy Baghdad.  See below.

All of this info and pictures are from Google.  I did not take any of these photos, nor did I write any of the articles.

Inside the US Embassy Baghdad

Wikipedia Article

NY Times Article

Business Insider Article

Stuff I see over the walls....

When I'm on top of the buildings I can look out across Baghdad and see some familiar things - most are associated with the Iraq War, but it's pretty interesting seeing things in real life I saw on the news.

Crossed Swords (Dear RSO - I did not take this picture)

(Mr. RSO - I didn't take this one either)

Not taken by me.

Ba'ath Party Headquarters.  Site of Saddam Trial.  Photo by not Chris.

Yes, there is a "Baghdad Eye" like in London.  No I have not been on it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Something you want your boss to say....1, 2, and 3.

There have been three times in my FS career where my boss said something to me that I will never forget.  Something so profound for that particular moment that it literally changed the way I manage people.

1) "I trust your judgement."  When in the midst of a big decision, if your boss says this - then you know your doing a good job.  If the boss can trust your decisions without advising you or making the decision for you, you should here this.  And when you do, your morale goes through the roof. WOW!  But with this statement comes a responsibility.  A responsibility to make sure your decisions are in fact, well thought out and defensible.  I love that in my role as OMSS COR here in Baghdad, I have A/CORs that I can say this to.

2) "You might be the most honest person I know."  I got this one during bidding season and my 360 reference passed this to my future boss.  Frankly, I'd rather be told this than just about anything else.  More than "you're going a good job" or "I can count on you" etc...  Honesty is at the heart of's reflected in how hard you work, how you deal with the boss, how you treat subordinates, on and on.  Honesty is the foundation for all of successes you have personally and professionally.

3) "You were wrong, but I'm going to back you."  Wow...this makes me smile just typing it.  Man, I can't tell you how empowered I felt when my boss told me this.  He's willing to publicly stand behind my decision even though he thought my decision was wrong.  Now, my decision had rationale to it; it wasn't an off-the-cuff choice, but he thought I went the wrong way.  But because he saw the logic to my choice, he stuck with me.  This is so powerful and gives me confidence to make decisions on my own without having to worry if I'll make the wrong choice.

I've held on to these sayings like gold.  Hearing these built my confidence and actually made me take the time to ensure I was making good choices.  If you have someone working for you....American, local, or whatever....remember to try these out and watch your employee bloom!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Hey dummy with the expired visa!

Last week I returned from my 1st R&R transiting through Amman, Jordan.  When I went to check in for my Embassy Air flight to Baghdad the ticket agent politely informed me that my Iraqi visa had expired and I would not be allowed on the flight.



Yeah, remember the old saying “Trust, but verify”??  I trusted, but didn’t verify and the Iraqi Embassy had only issued me a 3 month visa.

Great…now what do I freakin’ do?  I’ve missed my flight, I've got no visa, and the cell phone I’ve got doesn’t work in Jordan.

Luckily, I have email and the wonderful, beautiful, excellent people at the US Embassy Baghdad who work with the Iraqi MFA know the right people to talk to.  But the gate was closed so I spent two more days at Crown Plaza Amman at my own expense (since I’m the dolt who didn’t check the visa – it wasn’t the Embassy’s fault). 

Good news – I was able to spend my two days clearing out 1,000 emails using my work Blackberry.
Bad news – I had to spend two days clearing out 1,000 emails using only a work Blackberry.

Not my thumb.  This is just to gross you out.

But I would like to offer my thanks to the Crowne Plaza Amman who upgraded me to Club Level including free breakfast, afternoon snacks, and heavy hors’devors with free beer at dinner that I TOTALLY MURDERED every day so I didn’t have to spend any of my own money.  Boo-ya!

And, oh yeah, I made it back to Baghdad two days later…..and I got a new visa.

It's for 2 years.

I double checked.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Recapping final days in Jerusalem.

I departed Jerusalem at the end of May this year.  The last 2 weeks where a whirlwind of finishing projects, checking out, saying goodbye, and mentally preparing to leave my family for a year.  This was the hardest PCS yet because I was leaving alone - without my family and knowing it'd be a while before I saw them again.

Jacci and I lucked out my last week in town and were selected to be part of a small Consulate group invited into the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.  Both mosques are normally off-limits to non-Muslims so this was a real opportunity.

In fact, the experience of going inside these two mosques - arguably the most contested pieces of real estate in the world - is just another reason why I love this job!!!

Outside the Dome of the Rock

Inside Al Aqsa Mosque

The FM staff and I took a day and went for a hike near Haifa and then had a wonderful seafood lunch in Acco (one of my favorite cities in Israel).  This was a "goodbye Chris" lunch and, as usual, I choked up saying thank you and goodbye to the FM gang.

Thanks everyone for a great two years!