from the front lines
School Executive MBA alum, Dan Rice, shares his story of helping
Who knew rebuilding
a war-torn country in the midst of an insurgency after years
of neglect and abuse would be this difficult?" said one
of my more thoughtful and satirical friends about my current
role as commerce officer for the U.S. Army's 42nd Infantry
Division (National Guard).
a good question, and one I hadn't really contemplated until
being confronted by the challenges after moving from civilian
to military life.
past 10 years I have been fortunate to live in some of the
best cities in the United States. I now live in Tikrit,
Iraq, Saddam Hussein's hometown. This is the first country
that I have helped to rebuild, and so the experience
is a novel one for me.
is responsible for four provinces northwest of Baghdad in
the area known as the "Sunni Triangle." There is
no complete job description for my role here, although
this broad summation suggests the magnitude of the task: to
aid in rebuilding the Iraq economy in every way possible.
I am one
of 150,000 soldiers here involved in this mission, working
beside the 26 million Iraqis. This is the greatest team of
which I have been a member. We fight not only an active and
formidable insurgency, but also the legacy of Hussein's 30
years of neglect and outright terror.
ago, it would have been impossible for me to imagine my current
workplace while employed at U.S. Trust in New York City; impossible
for me to know that I would be living in Hussein's Tikrit
palace or traveling to Baghdad, Kirkuk, Fallujah, Amman (Jordan),
Dubai (UAE) and Samarra.
graduating from West Point and serving in the U.S. Army, I
completed my commitment and left the service in 1991. I attended
Kellogg from 1998-2000. I was recalled in 2004 to deploy to
Iraq as an Army captain. Fortunately, the Army located a role
for me that has proven ideally suited to my skills, background
here could not be more challenging, more frustrating, more
heartbreaking, or more rewarding.
left the United States last October and is scheduled to remain
here until next February. I rationalize the situation by reminding
myself that, on the one hand, mine is a long deployment; on
the other hand, it is long enough to make a difference.
live to be 100, I know that my year in Iraq will prove to
be one of the most memorable and important of my life. I am
not performing the risky roles of the soldiers that fill the
screen on the nightly news. The incredibly brave men and women
of the U.S. armed services who each day risk their lives to
provide security for the Iraq people fill those jobs. It is
inspiring for me to see the joy in the faces of people who
have voted for the first time in their lives — and who proudly
display the ink on their index finger — incidentally flashing
the "No. 1" gesture in so doing.
one of my West Point classmates returned from a year in Iraq
after being recalled, I asked him if he had any regrets. His
one regret was that he wished he could have helped more. That
is the consistent message I receive from all the soldiers
leaving Iraq. I think about that point all the time, because
it drives me to do the most that I can to help.
for me I attended Kellogg. I know that I, too, will wish I
could have done more. But I also know that I could not contribute
nearly as much in Iraq had I not have had the privilege of
attending Kellogg. Whether it is helping to shape our market
research when questioning our customers (the Iraqi people),
or debating the merits of subsidies and entitlements, or performing
due diligence to help convince a foreign investor to commit
resources in the date palm sugar industry, I constantly think
of my time at Kellogg and the great faculty and peers who
participated with me on that journey.
reflect on the tremendous outpouring of support from the American
public for our soldiers fighting this war — whether or not
people support the war itself. It means the world to a soldier
to hear strangers in America say, "Thank you."