Life as a Contractor in Iraq.
Pros: working with outstanding people and being well compensated.
Cons: being away from loved ones.
Working overseas supporting the State Department(US Embassy) in Iraq was quite a challenge and involved a lot of personal sacrifice. Deploying for three months at a time required one to be motivated, disciplined, capable of making decisions in stressful situations, and still managing a family life that was thousands of miles away.
A typical workday (which was everyday except maybe Friday), involved ensuring that all teams scheduled to participate in missions had necessary information regarding said missions such as event, venue, client, intel reports and threat analyses, as well as individual team roles in the execution of the mission. During the execution of the missions, my role was simply to keep Teams and my superiors informed of any significant changes that may affect personnel safety or security. At the end of the day, after action reports were discussed if there were any significant incidents or lessons learned, otherwise, it was a simple briefing of the following days schedule and execution of those missions.
In nine years of working for the US Embassy in Iraq, I was able to hone skills such as conflict resolution, threat assessment, mission planning, staff supervision, classroom instruction, coaching and mentoring, conducting site surveys, executive briefing/reporting and maintaining client relations.
The hardest part of the job was easily isolation from everything that most people see as everyday living. Being away from family and having a life outside of work isn't always an easy adjustment to make which is were good co-workers and good managers and leaders come – more... in. I was fortunate enough to have worked with and mentored by very good leaders. Leaders who have taught me the fine balance of mission accomplishment and taking care of those in your charge.
The most enjoyable part of the work for me, aside from the satisfaction of serving my country, was being around people who genuinely cared about each other. Being around people who would die to protect you and for whom I would do the same is an invaluable experience. – less