Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not Another PowerPoint Presentation!!!

I have been in training now for almost 2 months. With the exception of Crash & Bang (see previous post), all of the classes have been intensely jam-packed full of information. That means they cram a lot into a short period. The fact that 2 of my courses were shortened because of holidays didn’t make things easier. A week to learn everything about Iraq, 2 weeks to learn about Political/Economics tradecraft, 2 weeks to study the Near East & North Africa region, and this week I’m learning all about the PRTs in Iraq (provincial reconstruction teams). Next week I study Islam in Iraq.

I can’t prove it, but I suspect that Congress must have passed a law that all government-sponsored training must include PowerPoint presentations. Boring, text-heavy PowerPoint presentations. If I ever have trouble falling asleep in Baghdad, I’ll simply open the PPT file on funding sources for USAID development programs. Zzz.

The other common theme through all of the training is the absurd number of acronyms I’m expected to know. Learning all the State Department acronyms is bad enough, but going to Baghdad means I have to learn the acronyms of several other departments and agencies. And those military folks, bless their hearts, have a cult-like obsession with their acronyms. We received an acronym glossary in class today, it was 4 pages long… double-sided!