Thursday, May 20, 2004

i hate badges

Today was a badge making day. For those of you not up to speed on what's going on, I'll put together a post explaining all about my job here. But for now, all you need to know is that I'm in the Green Zone of Baghdad, Iraq, responsible for the security here. In that job, we have to make sure that the only people in the GZ are the ones that live here. In order to regualate that, we have to make badges. These badges are such a pain in my butt. Instead of just making a decision to issue out all new badges to everyone living here, the powers that be are trying to pass the buck to someone else. The CPA wants us to do it. We want the CPA to issue a badge. I'm thinking that it'll end up being ME and my company issuing badges. The badges issued by the unit before us were VERY simple. One sided and easy to make. But also, very easy to counterfeit. Battalion decided we needed to make badges that were hard to dupe. Without getting into the details of it, I enlisted the help of some SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) in the field of ID card making (;-)) and came up with a pretty good badge, if I do say so myself. But the kicker is that they're harder and more time consuming to make. This isn't a big problem when you're making 10 or 20. But for the 10,000 people that live in the Green Zone, it's a BIG deal. I only made 70 today and it took me all afternoon. Heaven help me when it's decided I have to make all 10,000 badges. Well, 9930 badges. Alright. Time for a shower and my bed. Later!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey, it's D. For anyone out there, this guy running the website and I went to our Field artillery officers course as new LT's together. I was in Iraq doing roughly the same things and came home about three weeks before this guy went over. I just wasn't tech- savvy enough to set up a website. SO, I can relate and have a plan for this badge- making thing... about a week ago I found my PIN drive i used in Iraq. I stll have all of OUR badges on it. Iraqis all have similar names, much like americans, and the photos are pretty much of ambiguous quality- i am thinking i can do my dear friend a favor and save him some work. AFter all, i have been home for a couple of months and all the IDs that my FIST team made are long since destroyed, lost, or redistributed on the black market. For those of you concerned that this shortcut will somehow cheat the Iraqi people living in the green zone or cause a security scandal, let me clarify 3 important points:
1) most iraqis cannot spell their own name in print, english or arabic. This does not mean that they are dumb, they simply do not care too much about english writing. Fair enough, I care about learning to write in Chinese, so I am not throwing any stones. If they did care, they would tell you all of their names, but they have usually about 8. Three are family and tribal names they never use, the other 5 are used differently by different members of the community or their families. Usually, they settle on one as a common name, which may or may not be part of the 8 "real" names they were given at birth.
2) These ID's that are being made are available for $50 American on the marketplace. Don't believe me, ask any drunken 12 year old on a scooter to get you one, give him $25 and promise him another $25 when he shows up... He will buy his moms/brothers/some guy on the street and make enough to buy another scooter. Or more beer.
3) The Iraqi security forces manning these checkpoints rely on knowing the people that live there. Iraq is an oral tradition culture. It's actually kind of impressive, how well they know each other. However, the IDs issued merely have to be issued by us to fulfill their purpose. They could be purple poker chips (which, come to think of it will be VERY difficult to forge or obtain- there aren't so many casinos in the Middle East, maybe it is an idea) It isn't like the average citizen carries a driver's license to validate the information on their US issued ID.
I think this is a very bad plan, but as Brian will tell you, it is very difficult for me to make a good plan that does not involve completely destroying a vehicle. Hang in there brian!