New Paradigm Resources Group President Terry Barnich has answered the call to duty. Despite having only one year of college ROTC under his belt, the lawyer is serving as Senior Advisor for Law and Policy to the Iraq Transition Assistance Office of the U.S. Department of State for the Electricity Sector.
This is not Terry’s first stint in public service, however. Prior to forming the Chicago-based NPRG in 1993, he was chairman and commissioner of the Illinois Commerce Commission. Prior to that, he was legal counsel to Illinois Governor James R. Thompson.
In his current post, for which he volunteered, Terry wears a variety of hats, including acting as general counsel to the electricity section of the State Department’s reconstruction office, which means he reviews contracts, certain protocols and directives. He also serves as a legal advisor to the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, helping develop a new modern electricity law and some regulatory protocols that will be necessary for attracting private investment money down the road. The ministry will need more than $25 billion over the next 10 years for network improvements, he explains.
Terry also plays a role in articulating policy to ranking policy-makers in Iraq’s U.S. Embassy and in Washington, D.C. He even briefed the president, the vice president, the secretaries of state and defense, the chair of the National Security Council and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Terry has been in Baghdad since mid-January 2007 and lives in a 150-foot trailer in the Green Zone, a heavily guarded area of closed-off streets in central Baghdad where U.S. authorities live and work. Terry travels frequently through the Red Zone — less safe areas of the city where the risk of a roadside bomb or kidnapping always is present. However, he says traveling with the State Department security teams makes him feel very safe. While attacks in the Green Zone have subsided since he arrived, Terry had one close call; he missed being hit by two rockets by 44 paces and about eight seconds.
Despite the danger and distance from home, Terry works 10 to 12 hours per day, seven days per week, toward what he calls “the mission.” He believes “that to protect American liberty at home we need to see liberty succeed in the Middle East. Building the civil institutions of liberal democracy may just sustain our effort to introduce liberty here. I feel the responsibility to do my part,” he explains. “I like to think that in some small way, I will have contributed my part in transferring certain knowledge to the Iraqis that will permit them to otherwise accelerate their seizing control of their own future and make this experiment in liberty a success.”
Terry has been stateside twice since his deployment, but expects to be home for good no later than April 1.
Terry’s first job:
Terry’s first real job was working at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, first as a cashier, then as a guide.
Words to live by:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” — Edmund Burke
“My experience in Iraq has reinforced the certainty I hold that we are a truly blessed nation and I would wish that every American would be more appreciative of just how uniquely lucky we are. I’m sorry, but in an historical or global perspective, there just aren’t that many Americans who have a legitimate beef.”
Thoughts on telecom:
“Looking back, it seems to me remarkable now just how rapidly the telecom business and market have morphed into the world of computers and consumer electronics. With the opening of standards, equipment, services and transmitting media, the predictions of 10 years ago holding that these would be the technologies of freedom, which we thought at the time were fanciful or premature, were quite conservative.”