LT COL ROBERT J. BLAIR
America Happy Company probably sounds odd to anyone who has not been to the Middle East. If you've never had the opportunity to stand in swirling sand as fine as powdered sugar and watch plumes of gas burn at heights of 100 feet all around you, then the awkward, broken English used in the region probably clangs jarringly as it hits your ears. But luckily for Middle Eastern business owners and contractors, when Americans are fighting a war and looking for a company to supply fresh produce and "American-style" ketchup in the middle of a 135-degree endless beach, we don't grade on grammar or syntax.
As the Air Force officer in charge of procuring basic provisions for troops — such as food, beverages and toiletries — I was more concerned with the quality of a company's products and services than its name. America Happy Company was one of many vendors operating out of the region that bid on my contract, and it was able to supply our essentials for less money than the closest competitor. So I awarded the contract to it, regardless of its inelegant name.
U.S. Central Command Air Force (CENTAF) is responsible for U.S. Air Force troops in the Middle East. After the September 11th attack in New York City and the Pentagon, our CENTAF budget skyrocketed from $230 million per year to more than $2 billion annually. We were investing in an ever-expanding infrastructure in the giant sandbox, and we were ...