Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Contractors

I'm sure by now you have heard how much the logistics and day to day operations of war is being contracted out to private companies. Some elites seek to capitalize on the daily necessities of the individual soldier, while those they employ might just be looking for a better way of life and are willing to use the skills and abilities they have developed over the years to better their standard of living.What I have seen over here, in my little bubble of Constructionland, is an array of different types of contractors. For instance, the Army has starting using a new types of vehicles for transporting soldiers and they have contractors here to work on those vehicles when something goes wrong, or if Maintenance can't fix it.When it comes to our daily activities - eating food, taking a shower, laundry, going to the gym, buying things - one is bound to come into contact with a civilian employee. Some are former military, doing practically the same job they did in the service, yet making a lot more money. Others just want more money and are willing to risk their safety in return for more coin in their pocket. What is more, that person you meet is probably not from either America or the Middle East! Take Mukibi, the security guard at the gym. He's from Uganda, one of the more impoverished countries in subsaharan Africa. On my way out of the gym, I struck up a conversation with him. "Why did you Uganda and come here, to a war zone?", I asked. He just rubbed the tip of his thum up against the tip of his other fingers and said, "The money!" Mukibi is just one a plethora of Africans who fled their respective countries in search of a better paying job, regardless of the environment they work in. Frankly, these gentlemen probably work in a safer place than if they were back home!I've met people from Europe (East and West), Russia, Asia, South America, you name it! All of them have their own reasons for leaving their homeland to work here in Iraq, but the overwhelming majority will say that they've got a better chance of making an honest living here. I find it amazing how as Americans, when we think about our soldiers going off to war, we fear for their lives; yet, those seeking a better life, or at least a more prosperous life, have little regard for their safety. In most cases it's because they are from less developed countries or regions that are filled with their own daily uncertainties. I've been reading several books as of late about the internal strife throughout Africa and the Middle East, and I sometimes forget that what we view as a hostile area, others might view as a vacation! I know that may sound weird, but think for just a minute what your daily life is like. The most stressful thing you might have to worry about today is how well you do in a presentation or if your outfit matches. Honestly, since being back here on Camp Liberty, except for the fact that I know what I'm going to wear everyday, I worry less about my safety than I do my job performance. Now, imagine sleeping in your garage with about 4 or 5 other people, waking up with little to no food or water and the only thing you have planned for the day is going around in search of food, or some way to work that will enable to you buy food for your family. That's what most of these people are leaving behind, so no wonder they come here. To some of you, the word contractor may carry a negative connotation. At times, it does for me; but, then I meet people like Mukibi and I say to myself, "Self, at least you have physically seen that there are some people who's lives are better off from this war. Now, if only we could make their lives better in their own country!" Take care.

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