WEEK 52: After nearly a year of this, readership is waning as it must be repetitive. My interest ten years ago wasn’t waning as the Coalition and the information team made more progress every day.
A Helping Hand
“I’m from the government and I’m here to help” – Institutional Witticism
Perhaps they just want money. Perhaps they are just exercising old fashioned capitalism. But maybe – just maybe, the feet of Al Qaeda and Jaysh al Mahdi have been lifted off the Iraqis throats’ just enough to allow them a brief call.
The words above sounded good when I wrote them nine weeks ago. Even if I knew I had to still deal with some bureaucracy, I had created this expectation for myself we might be able to support some Iraqi capability.
I had three initiatives that required assistance from a three letter agency. My Iraqi counterparts and I had about a week lead time to prepare a two page abstract or a formal business plan. Given the time available, we went with the two-page abstract. Surely, one would be approved.
Our three letter agency point of contact told us the proposals looked good. No, don’t include the detailed budget to the abstract – too much information at this time. Two weeks after we submit our proposals, our three letter agency point of contact goes on leave for four weeks. I e-mail the three letter agency point of contact’s co-workers and ask who is handling the proposals in my three letter agency point of contact’s absence. Survey says: nobody. Super.
I continue to pester, I mean, coordinate with the three letter agency point of contact’s co-workers for an answer but to no avail. Near the end of October, the three letter agency point of contact returns from leave. I ask for a status and get no answer, but we agree to meet in the International Zone.
The Marxist’s proposal was not approved. The three letter agency needs more information like a detailed business plan. Okay. I inquire as to when we should submit a detailed formal business plan. Soon. I inquire as to why nobody could tell me this two weeks ago so we could be working on a detailed formal business plan. Sorry, I don’t know. I ask for the boss.
It turns out the boss was one of the three letter agency point of contact’s co-workers on the e-mails. I again inquire as to why nobody could tell me this two weeks ago. He tells me the three letter agency learned of it just this morning. Wow! What timing I have. Sorry we couldn’t be more efficient. Please provide more information like a detailed budget. Super.
I finally get an update on Hadi’s proposal. The three letter agency needs more information and, oh yeah, get the total dollar figure down. Why don’t you tell me this two weeks ago? The same thing happens to Susan’s proposal. The three letter agency contact won’t tell anybody the status of the proposal. I found another military officer who was able to give me the status. The three letter agency needs more information. Oh by the way, we have to turn in the detailed formal proposal in a week.
Susan is in almost as much disbelief as me. Why didn’t the three letter agency contact tell her? They had exchanged phone calls and e-mails. You can only get the status of a three letter agency proposal if you meet with them.
It is like Iraqi engagements – all about the relationship. We like to tell you no when we are ready. Actually, this reminds me more of dealing with the Saudis. When will the Emir sign the agreement? Soon and soon means never. Super.
I suppose I should not be surprised considering what one in a three letter agency has to do to have a cable-gram approved.
After a three letter agency contact prepares the district council engagement cable-gram, everybody who wasn’t there has to verify what occurred from their perspective before the boss can approve the official notice.
Really, though, I am whining. The Iraqis handled the denial much better than I did. Their attitude demonstrates resolve in the face of adversity and optimism consistent with an improving situation. The Marxist, Hadi and Susan all agreed to develop a formal detailed business plan.