Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Escape from southern Iraq, contractor style

BLP finished up their contract at the Training Centre this week, and made their last trip up to Baghdad, with the expatriates then working their way back to their own countries, or moving on to new jobs elsewhere.

They are on their own with movements, and as such, they either manage their moves on their own or subcontract with another company, Olive Group. Most of their recent moves as they closed out relied on Olive as their own resources were becoming very limited in their last stages of the contract. There's a lean six sigma lesson in there somewhere.

Older, smaller, slower

Olive more recently has acquired some larger vehicles- impressive monsters that I don't really know much about, but they seem about twice as large as their previous Pumas and Rivas-

Newer, bigger, more Mad Maxier

Before they go, they have convoy briefs, detailing reactions to various scenarios such as contact by small arms fire, IEDs, or even just breakdowns. These sometimes are accomplished by the highly technical process of Hot Wheels vehicles lined on the ground, and rolled around to show who goes where and when in the various situations.

In any case, the last of the crew left earlier this week- and it was difficult even to get a last picture, as various members of the team were involved in last minute shut-down efforts all the way to the last minute of getting onto the vehicles for the convoy.

Nice work, Hippo- at least we got to see your most attractive side....

Now our incredibly celebrated Training Centre is little more than a ghost town while leadership decides and executes on next steps- contracting, resourcing, recruiting, etc. The National Police have a group stationed down here, and we meet daily, inspect the grounds, discuss what we know and are hearing about our "way forward." But truth be told, things are relatively slow at the moment.

Really enjoyed lunch with my National Police colleagues today, though. A good Iraqi style lunch, a bit nicer than they usually have, because they wanted to make me happy. While I sometimes get upset by various behaviors, for the most part I feel my counterpart and his team have worked very hard to understand me and my desires and incorporate them into their efforts. They frequently are far too excessive in their praise and appreciation, but I believe everyone loves to hear others say good things about them. As I noted in an earlier post, it seems like the folks I work with are starved for positive feedback. I try to find the balance that seems appropriate in my efforts to help them be happy with their successes but strive to do more and do better quality work. They haven't shot me yet, so that is a bonus.

No comments: