So, You Think You Want to Work in Afghanistan?

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The LOGCAP Test of Endurance: How to Tell if You’re Ready for an Overseas Contracting Job

When considering applying for a position on the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, –aka- LOGCAP, most people really have no idea of what they are letting themselves in for. They may have heard fairytales about how you can go over to Afghanistan, bank an easy hundred grand, and come on back to the house looking forward to taking a part-time job down at the local Wal-Mart as a greeter. You know. Just to stay cash flow positive and keep a little money coming in. If only it were that easy.

The grind of day-to-day life on the LOGCAP project, I would have to say, is the biggest contributor to the inordinately high turnover rate, sending the dejected and disillusioned packing faster than a scud missile rising out of the desert with only their shattered dreams of financial independence to show for their trouble.

In the final analysis, there are basically only three categories of persons when it comes to working on LOGCAP – those who thrive, those who survive, and those who just fade away. Working at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for months on end will most assuredly test a person’s intestinal fortitude and at least for some, the relentless schedule is the psychological and emotional equivalency of voluntarily submitting ones self to water boarding. Paradoxically, for others it’s a walk in the park.

But it isn’t just the work schedule which sends people running to HR begging to be put on the next thing smokin’ – au contraire, mon ami! Another contributing factor are the sometimes relentless rocket and mortar attacks that seem to come at the most inconvenient times – like, just after you’ve collapsed into your rack in a sleep deprived, delusional semi-conscious stupor, oblivious to the cacophony of noise rising to the decibel level of a rock concert going on around you. But wait – those voices in your head are not the audience – they are the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of distant shores, the homeless, the tempest-tost shining their lamp into your blood-shot eyes as you lay beside the exit door.

If you are determined to do this thing and you want to prove to yourself beyond any shadow of a doubt that you can hack it on LOGCAP, just accomplish these five simple tests of endurance:

  • Move out of your house, taking with you only that which you can put in a backpack or carry.
  • Go pitch a tent within a quarter mile (preferably less) of a major airport runway and live there for one month. Stay awake all night, and sleep only during the day to simulate night shift. Alternate simulating day shift and night shift each week to help acclimate yourself to a rigorous lifestyle.
  • Go down to the Army-Navy surplus store and get some MREs (meals ready to eat), and eat only MREs during your month long camping expedition. Alternatively, you can walk a mile to an eating establishment, but when you get there make sure you stand outside for at least an hour and a half to get a sense of what it will be like waiting in line at the base dining facilities in Afghanistan.
  • When wanting to take a shower, stand on a wooden pallet, pour bottled water over yourself to wet down, lather and rinse. Make sure you use only two, 2-liter bottles for the entire process. To simulate winter conditions, perform this activity inside a refrigerated trailer.
  • When wanting to wash your clothes, make sure you wait 3 days to wear them after they are washed. Do not separate by color when washing and use only the cheapest, most abrasive washing detergent available.

There are additional ways of testing yourself, but generally if you can do all of the above without going around the bend and can honestly say, “Please sir! May I have another, sir?”, then you just may be a good candidate for LOGCAP after all. Remember, the LOGCAP project is no place for anyone who is easily offended or with delicate sensibilities, so check your emotions at the door before going wheels up and make sure you arrive at your destination in a “Can Do” frame of mind highly motivated, truly dedicated and ready to be all you can be.

Bruce Diggs is a former HR staff member for KBR in Iraq and Flour in Afghanistan, with experience on the LOGCAP project in Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. For truly viral no-spin information on the reality of working in Afghanistan, stop by his website www.LogCap4Jobs.com and be sure to checkout his world famous “Free Advice”! Bruce can also be found guest blogging for www.DangerZoneJobs.com.

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