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Reflections on one year in Iraq

By stretch | Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 12:13 a.m. UTC

Today, June 1st, is very significant for me. Exactly one year ago today I was sitting in a terminal at McCarran Airport, nursing a coffee and watching the sun rise over the Las Vegas strip one last time. Soon I would board my flight, destined for Fort Benning, GA, to be in-processed for my stint as a contract network engineer in Iraq.

While it would be roughly a week until I actually set foot in the Middle East, that day was the official start of my first contract, just as today marks the beginning of my second. That day also marked my first day employed as a civilian, having just honorably separated from the USAF after a four-year enlistment.

Shortly after getting settled out here, I began to study for my CCNP. Originally I hadn't taken it all that seriously, assuming that I would forget much of what I studied before I had a chance to take an exam. I was wrong. This turned out to be a great study environment, as there's plenty of time and few distractions. I went through the entire Cisco Press CCNP set, taking notes on each chapter, then went through the entire set again, refining the notes as I saw fit. The cheat sheets published on this site were originally an off-shoot of this effort, as was the site itself.

Now that I'm confident in my understanding of the material covered at the CCNP level, I've decided to pursue my CCIE in Routing and Switching. Given that I just agreed to spend at least another year out here, it would seem crazy not to progress my studying. Considering how much I've learned so far just from the CCNP track, I'm excited to think how much more I can expand my knowledge over the coming months. Here's to another year of Cisco in the desert!

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June 1, 2008 at 4:41 p.m. UTC

Hi Stretch,

Just found your website and first of all just give you the congratulations for your great site.

When i was reading this article i was thinking..."we look like soul mates!!". I work for an oil company in other desert, the Sahara, in Argelia. I am also network engineer for data and voice.

This month i made year and i am going to continue for one more and as you do i use my time to get certs, i have finished the CCVP and i have passed 50% of CCNP.... CCIE Voice will follow next year... or i hope so :)

I will follow your updates... and we have today sandstorm :)



June 1, 2008 at 6:44 p.m. UTC

You are good man. Thank you for your service and for your site.

June 2, 2008 at 3:15 a.m. UTC

Since I've found your site, I been a fan. Your works are greatly appreciated, specially the cheat sheets, I used it well for my CCNP track. I'm now working on the CCVP track. By the way, I added your site in my blogrolls.

Thanks again.



April 24, 2013 at 5:10 p.m. UTC

I had an open job offer from a certain defense contractor secondary to my attendance at one of their training sessions for a new product our unit had just fielded.

The lady who was the lead trainer, after listening to my CV, said without batting an eyelash, "$250,000 the first year. Interested?"

Damn but I wish I had been able to jump on that. All the rest of my Iraq experience only resulted in misery and heartache.

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