The pros and cons of…

Here’s the deal: I spent 20 years in the USMC doing all sorts of work for all sorts of units. The one thing I haven’t done is served in combat or even a “hazard zone”. I am not ashamed of that, in fact I consider myself fortunate. I have friends who’ve been “in the shit”, and not one of them ever wanted to go back. Now, I’d never done anything to avoid such duty, in fact I volunteered to go with the group from my unit that was deployed to Desert Storm in ’91, and was on standby to leave when the fighting started. The kicker there was that the whole shebang was over before we finished our load-out and we were called back before we got on the boat.

I’m sure you’re wondering where I’m going with this. There’s a point, really, and here it comes.

I got a call this morning for a company (a subsidiary of Haliburton) that provides logistics support to the military. Perfect opportunity for someone like me, who has been doing just that for 20 years. The kicker is, they are looking for someone (me) to work on contract for a year in Baghram, Afghanistan. So after 20 years served in the volunteer military with NO combat exposure, I am now considering the option of taking a civilian job in a hazard zone.

So, I’m weighing pros and cons here… bear with me, and feel free to add your input/opinions. If you have any recent firsthand information about the area, I’d love to hear from you.

Pros: Working with the military (well, Air Force, but close enough). Supporting our country’s efforts to further democracy in the world (yes, I consider that a plus). The job pays over $100,000/year (and yes, my friends, that is a big one). Desert/arid climate (I don’t like high humidity, and the area is apparently generally dry).

Cons: Potentially very dangerous. Potentially crappy living/working conditions (although probably no worse than any other field operation I’ve been on). Bullets and/or bombs hurt. Bad.

I’ll be spending a good chunk of today discovering the latest news from Afghanistan. I regret not keeping up with the situation there, but most of the news this past year has been from Iraq. That’s probably a good thing for Afghanistan, actually.

I’d appreciate any knowledgeable input – please no politically oriented, anti-American, “Evil Haliburton” comments. None of those would have any impact on me, and I’d probably simply delete them.


  1. Ok, the initial phone call was brief – granted I wasn’t seriously considering the offer at the time – but now that my interest is piqued, I’m making a list of things I need to know before saying "yes". Here are a few to start, if you can think of more, feel free to add.

    Keep in mind, I’m not a stranger to living in "field" conditions, so while some of these are of interest, they’re not of primary consideration. I’m still looking for someone who may have experience with this or a similar job that I mind-meld with a bit to learn more of what to expect.

    Living conditions: What sort of billeting/chow? Single accomodations, or barracks style? Buildings or tents? Messhall style chow? Or some other arrangement?

    From what I have learned so far (from browsing/searching the internet), Bagram Air Field is a somewhat primitive site in a state of constant upgrade/improvement. Water is still trucked in, although permanent barracks are being built with running water/sewage – no idea how this correlates to the the civilian side, that information is from the Air Force.

    Clothing/Uniforms: Civilian attire or company uniform? If uniforms; provided by company or purchased by me? If civilian attire, what are dress standards?

    Medical/Dental: She mentioned that medical/dental were covered, but I’d like to know by whom?

    Phone/Internet: What level of service is available? Should I bother getting a new laptop to take, or would I have no access to the internet? (Actually, a laptop would be handy even without internet, so that’s pretty much a given, I think).

    Recreation: They broke ground on a new USO building in February, I think, so there’s that, just wondering what else may be available to consume my off-time.

    Pay: Need details on taxable income, direct deposit, also, since I do most of my banking/billpaying online, need to know if I’ll be able to manage that remotely.

    Current/Former employees: Self-reminder to ask for contact information on someone who has been/worked there recently, ideally the guy I’m replacing.

    So, yeah – I’m giving it serious consideration. The attraction of being debt-free and well into the black in a year’s time is quite appealing. The true mystery to me is that they have any trouble at all filling these positions. Too many people whining over the evening news, I guess… and too many pansies afraid to give up their comforts, even for a little while.

  2. i can only speak for myself, but i would consider it a great adventure and learning opportunity… i didn’t support the war in vietnam but my 18 months there (from which i returned in one piece, thank god) was some of the greatest learning of my life… i’d do it…!

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