One of the most professional soldiers I worked with in Iraq during my tour in 2004 was Colonel Logan Barbee who was a professor of agriculture at the University of Florida. As an activated reservist with the 350th Civil Affairs Command, he went to Iraq as the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chief Intelligence Officer for the 350th. He is also an Army Ranger.
Since that tumultuous year at war, Barbee has retired with 28 years of active and reserve time in the Army, retired from the university after 25 years and volunteered to return to Iraq as a civilian.
I received an email from him and learned that he is once again in Iraq, this time as a Senior Advisor for the State Department. He is still working hard to help the Iraqis re-build their country so they can move on to a better life. He knows, as I do, that the vast majority of Iraqis are kind and gentle and they simply want to live a normal life with their families, make a decent living and enjoy life in peace.
According to Barbee: “Our public doesn’t realize is that this is an agricultural country to the Iraqi people, not an oil country. Oil is a recent commodity and it has been a benefit for the Iraqi government, not the people. Oil only provides jobs for 3% of Iraqis. Agriculture in Iraq was once their major export. They exported wheat, barley, rice, vegetables and dates and, with their large fertilizer plant in operation, they exported fertilizer to the surrounding Arab countries. Saddam changed all that and created a welfare state by importing agricultural commodities and giving everyone a food basket. It killed the markets and farming. Iraq is the Fertile Crescent with two great rivers flowing through its center. Canal systems are everywhere and over 80% of Iraqi workers have, in some way, worked in the agricultural operations at one time or another and it is like rural America in the 1930s.”
He went on to say: “Sometimes we miss the “people’s needs”. We build schools and roads, which are important, but food and jobs come first. The heart is in the stomach when it comes to feeding the family.”
With all the whiners and crybabies among the “celebrities” and the Hollywood crowd, it is refreshing to know men like Logan Barbee who are willing to step forward to make the kind of differences in this world that last for generations.
After all, he is a Ranger and “Rangers Lead the Way”.
SFC Chuck Grist