Baker Botts government relations partner Jim Grace (pictured) is back at his desk in Houston after a nine-month leave for deployment to Afghanistan as a U.S. Navy Reserve intelligence officer. Grace said he worked in counterinsurgency while in Afghanistan and, in that role, spent most of his time at a desk at Bagram Airfield doing HR work.
Grace, a lieutenant, talked about his experiences in Afghanistan during a speech on July 16 to about 100 lawyers and staff at Baker Botts.
He joined the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2007, right before his fortieth birthday, because he regretted not doing it earlier in life, and he took a nine-month leave from the firm beginning in August 2011 for his deployment.
While in Afghanistan, Grace says he kept track of about 750 linguists and about 250 intelligence contractors who were on the ground in Afghanistan doing counterinsurgency work.
“I saw a lot of interesting things, and I met a lot of interesting people. Leave it at that,” Grace said about his role in the counterinsurgency activities.
He said that while his accommodations at Bagram weren’t too bad — he had television and Internet access in his dorm-like quarters and the food was “not awful” — Bagram was highly polluted and “really, really awful.”
Interestingly, Grace said, he became close friends at Bagram with a reservist from New York state who is also a statehouse lobbyist.
“He’s probably the only other lobbyist in the Navy,” Grace said.
Grace returned to Houston in May and was back at work on May 29, just in time to prepare for the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature and resume carpool duties for his children’s activities.
— Brenda Sapino Jeffreys