Overtime in downtown Baghdad | VailDaily.com

Overtime in downtown Baghdad

Cliff Thompson
Bret Hartman / Vail Daily Dana Brosig in a soldier/engineer who has been, and will be returning to Iraq.

EAGLE-VAIL – Dana Brosig can’t wait to get back to downtown Baghdad for another tour of duty.This former Battle Mountain High School student isn’t a fiery-eyed Rambo-ette intent on terminating the enemy -she never carried a weapon while there. Instead, she’s set her sights on another objective: Rebuilding Iraq. The energetic, 24-year-old brunette, who has an easy laugh, is a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Brosig lives in Davenport, Iowa and is working on building a school in New Mexico. She was in Colorado for the holidays visiting her parents, Kurt and Marian, in Palisade after returning from Iraq in November.”I really miss Iraq a lot,” she says. “I think about it 100 times or more a day. You really get attached to your projects and when you leave, you go through withdrawal.”

During the six months she was in Iraq, she supervised the rebuilding of the bombed out and looted Ministry of Defense Building inside the “Green Zone,” a four-square-mile controlled-access safe area, housing the provisional government in the heart of Baghdad. The Army Corps handles much of the construction management in Iraq.The two-block-long defense building, which was on the edge of the zone, was hit by a dozen or more cruise missiles in the early phases of the war. It was Brosig’s job to rebuild it so it could be used by the new Iraqi government. It was an extensive renovation and reconstruction is still under way.A different view

Her six-month-long experience in Iraq differs significantly from what is being presented by the news media, which covers beheadings, bombings and attacks by insurgents. She says she saw more good than bad and that while it’s dangerous, life is beginning to return to normal.”I never felt the need to carry a weapon,” she says, acknowledging there was danger. “There were always armed people around me.”She did wear a bulletproof Kevlar vest, which she called a “battle rattle,” and a helmet. Sometimes she would hear the crackle of small arms fire in the distance, but she never heard it close to where she lived and worked. Still, there was always an awareness of the danger.Brosig doesn’t even like firearms. One of the requirements of the Corps of Engineers was that she learn to fire a 9 mm pistol prior to traveling to Iraq. She complied, but grudgingly, she says.While the danger of insurgent attack is ever present in Iraq, but it’s not everywhere, she says. “It can be dangerous,” she says. “You follow the rules and lessen the danger.”Those rules included making sure you never travel alone and having an “accountability partner” to watch your back, if you do travel, she says.

She lived in a boxy, sand-colored, government-issue mobile home, surrounded by massive sandbag walls designed to stop bullets or shrapnel. “People think there’s fighting going on everywhere,” she says. “That’s just not the case.”When her job did call for her to travel outside the Green Zone into the dangerous “Red Zone,” she did so in a military convoy of armored Humvees, but she says those were not attacked.”Those soldiers were so professional,” she says. “They were so well-trained. No matter what was needed, they did it. Some of them were just 19 years old. I wouldn’t trust a 19-year-old here to drive me anywhere.”Nevertheless, one of her friends was ambushed but survived because he was riding in an armored vehicle. Brosig has a picture of the side of the SUV he was riding in. It is pockmarked with dents from automatic weapon fire. She had been invited to ride with her friend, she says, but she refused.

Her parents differed on her pending departure to Iraq. Her father, a military veteran who runs a masonry company in Edwards, endorsed her decision to go to Iraq, while her mother, she says, had reservations, but supports her fully now.Avoiding burnoutMost of Brosig’s time in Baghdad was spent working. Like most of her comrades, she worked a mind-numbing seven days a week, 12 hours a day – for six months.Surprisingly, she found the duties and pace suited her and she never felt she would reach burnout.

“It was super-fast-paced and easy because there was so much to do. You just kept going,” she says. “Working eight hours here is harder.”But when she wasn’t working she did spent time reading or swimming or working out in the gymnasiums within the international enclave of the Green Zone.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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