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A Passage to Iraq


As a power infrastructure program manager for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), I'm working to restore power to Baghdad. I'm in Iraq as a contract hire on the USAID staff, but I was placed here through IRG, a consultancy based in Washington, which holds the personnel-services contract for the USAID's Iraq mission.

I currently oversee two power infrastructure projects with a scope of roughly $200 million, one of which is being executed by Bechtel National -- the same company responsible for the Hoover Dam, the Channel Tunnel, and Boston's Big Dig -- and the other performed by a U.S. Air Force contractor. The objectives of these projects are, respectively, to improve the efficiency of the Baghdad-area electric grid and to provide stand-alone power generation to potable water-treatment plants that service central Iraq.

TYPICAL DAY

6:30 a.m. -- I leave my housing trailer and sprint to a nearby gym, which is well furnished with free weights and cardiovascular equipment. I prefer to exercise in the morning, a carryover from my military service, and in this place it's a great way to start the day feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

8 a.m. -- I catch a ride from my living area to the Al Rasheed hotel, where I wolf down some oatmeal and egg whites before walking across the street to the building where I work, flashing my Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) ID card to the sergeant before entering.

8:30 a.m. -- The daily infrastructure meeting: Activity managers report project statuses and upcoming actions to the USAID Infrastructure Manager, who is my boss. I present the status of a contractor bid solicitation that I'm overseeing and the issues that should be resolved at a separate meeting this afternoon.

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