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Comment Consider carefully (Score 5, Insightful) 691

I am not a computer professional; I do international development work and so I travel a fair bit. I was in Afghanistan and Pakistan last summer and Iraq last November and December.

I found Afghanistan pretty likeable, but it would be a hard place to live for an extended period. Outside of Kabul it gets very primitive very quickly. Additionally, the security situation outside of Kabul is very much worse than it is inside.

I found Iraqis (and most people, really) to be pretty nice, hospitable people, but the situation there is just all kinds of bad. The security situation is part of it, and this keeps you indoors and in very close quarters a lot of the time, and this gets old quick. And regardless of how you feel about the current administration or the war, being an American in Iraq is a mighty uncomfortable thing to be in 2004.

I presume the people paying big money for these services are military or military contractors. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, these guys live in shipping containers, often in the middle of nowhere. In the Green Zone, shipping containers are stacked everywhere and people are shoved into any space that will fit them. Many people --civilian contractors -- share their bunks in shifts.

If you are really considering this just for the money, I would think very carefully about what you are doing. How much is money really worth? Because especially in Iraq, you will be exposing yourself to physical danger and psychic stress that is considerable.

And if you are going for a travel experience, I can support that, but I would suggest that in a military environment you are unlikely to get much of a cultural experience. There are other, better ways to do this.

If you really believe in what you would be doing (as I did), then go, but do keep an open mind and remain observant and inquisitive; regardless of your position now, you will find things are quite different from how you thought they were.

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