Beauchamp's Little Venice in Baghdad
A bunch of good news about Iraq

Uncle Reeker Wants You!

We've had a couple of unusual Roundtables lately, in that we've had non-military officers show up for them.  I suspect this means Jack Holt is getting results, and other people want on board.  Well, good. 

One fellow who joined us was Mr. Phil Reeker, of the US State Department (transcript here).  He came on to talk about the PRTs and EPRTs, which are being run by State.  Now, you've heard these things praised time and again by our military men.  They're making a difference on the ground.

Only problem is, they're having trouble finding people with the right skills.  Maybe they need you.

MR. REEKER:  [O]ne of the tricks has been to get the right people, the right skills sets, in right away. You'll recall that early on there was some criticism -- I think more from misunderstanding than anything else -- that while the State Department itself wasn't able to stand up and send these people -- and it's true the State Department doesn't have, necessarily, the types of skill sets -- civil engineers or veterinary scientists -- that meet the needs of what that particular region and that provincial reconstruction team are doing towards the development and capacity building in that particular location.

And so while they go out and look for these people, we have been able to tap into the vast resources of the U.S. military -- particularly the Reserve Corps -- and so you can find the specialists and bring them out. And I think that's worked quite well. And slowly, as those people finish their rotation, then we find the others. They're filling that out and more and State Department people, but others -- contractors -- are coming at the same time and they're exploring, you know, looking at who are the best people. They may be third country nationals, in some cases, to bring these guys out, not just a veterinary scientist. You need -- the ambassador says you need a guy that really knows sheep husbandry. And you want to get the right person with the right skills and willing to take on what in some cases is not an easy living situation. There's still a lot of security issues in some of these places....

GRIM:  I would like to ask you a bit about your recruiting process for getting people with the specialized skills you need. We have an interested readership. A lot of the people on the call do. How is State reaching out to find Americans with the skills they need? Is there somewhere that we can direct people to to see what your recruiting needs are for these PRTs, which seem like an important part of the overall effort. And of course, we'd like to help you hook up with the folks you're looking for.

MR. REEKER: You know, that's actually a great idea. And I have to admit, I should have thought of that beforehand. I will get in touch and get back to you with the contacts in Washington that are spearheading that. I know there's various channels through the federal government and the existing workforce that they've used to try to identify people, but also advertising and other ways of recruiting. And I want to get you a real answer, because I don't -- that's not something I've been involved with from this end out here in Iraq.

Let's see if we can get you something, because I think you're right. You guys have the audience and the readers that are the types of people that may be exactly what we're looking for.

GRIM: They may be. I know a bit about horses, for example, but I don't remember seeing in any of the trade publications an ad saying, "Come work for the State Department."

MR. REEKER: Yeah, well, exactly. You know, there are still regulations in the State Department Foreign Affairs Manual that tell you how you can you can bring your horse to post. (Chuckles.)

I still haven't gotten that answer on the recruiting process, although I've pinged them a time or two.  State is, as MountainRunner noticed, lagging a bit behind DOD in outreach to new media.  That said, Small Wars Journal has a post up with a lot of supporting links. 

Based on that post, I think this is the site for recruitment.  I field questions just occasionally from readers thinking about a career as a military contractor, or in the military itself.  Well, here's another option for those of you wanting to serve -- especially older readers who may have some of the advanced skills that are more common in the Reserves.

We've got to pull together to win this thing.  The PRTs and EPRTs are an important part.  They need good people.  If you think you are interested, or you know someone who might be, give it a try.  Drop me an email if you have questions the website doesn't answer.