My seminal experience with USAID came in 2007 in Ramadi, Iraq. As a part of President George W. Bush’s surge efforts, I found myself leading a very young, inexperienced Marine civil affairs unit with the mission of conducting stabilization and reconstruction in a badly damaged city.
Our USAID representative, in the first wave of the so called civilian surge, arrived about two months into our year-long tour and made an immediate impact on our way of thinking as well as our approach to the seemingly insurmountable problems the people of Ramadi faced. He and his implementing partners spent time educating us, helping us gain access to key city officials, and influencing our activities.
The partnership and collaboration between USAID and my small group of Marines was essential in making a difference for the people in what was once called “the most dangerous city in the world.” As the Marine Corps Fellow to USAID, I hope to strengthen this important relationship and to make an installment on a rather large debt of gratitude. Semper Fidelis!