Sunday, January 1, 2017

Halfway Done with Baghdad

Six months down.
Six months to go.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Seeing a piece of modern history in Baghdad.

Throughout the years of keeping this blog, I've shared a few "this is why I took this job" moments.  Well, I got another one last week in a BIG way!

Across the street from the US Embassy Baghdad is the former Ba'ath Party Headquarters and Iraqi High Tribunal Building.  I had the rare opportunity to go on a 5 person tour of the Tribunal Building  and neighboring museum lead by a local Iraqi archivist.

It was right out of a movie.  The buildings are basically abandoned and inside the ceiling are falling down, lights flickering, no heat, and neglected.  Dust from years of sandstorms coated everything inside.  The archivist opened the doors and what was inside was just mind are some pics and descriptions of what I saw...

The chair Saddam Hussein sat in during his trial.

The clothes Saddam was wearing when he was captured.

Saddam's cell at the High Tribunal
The museum no one goes in....

The trial room

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Never burn a bridge....stay professional.

The Foreign Service world is small....very small

My small world moments…

  • The Management Counselor from Phnom Penh that phone interviewed me in 2015 (and approved my Phnom Penh link) randomly sits at the same table as me in Basrah, Iraq in his new job at Iraq PMO.

  • The same Management Counselor is good friends with the Jerusalem FMO.  He makes a call to the FMO to check me out and his good words help me go to Phnom Penh.

  • A colleague in the ESO shop in Bangkok becomes the BDSC Director and his 360 reference is critical in getting me the job in Baghdad.

  • The Political Counselor in Bangkok becomes the DCM in Phnom Penh and confirms I’m a good guy J that helped me link to Phnom Penh.

  • The outgoing Management Counselor in Baghdad turns out to be friends with the RSO in Jerusalem.  He makes one phone call to the Jerusalem RSO who puts in a good word for me and I get the ok for Baghdad.

  • My former OBO Area Manager ends up working in the NEA Bureau and is helpful in securing my assignment to Jerusalem.

  • My former boss from Bangkok in 2012 visits US Embassy Baghdad in 2016 in his new position with M.  A good contact to know.

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!