×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ask Slashdot: Working As an IT Contractor In a War Zone?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-just-a-hobby-any-more dept.

The Military 352

Capt. Picklepants writes "I have been feeling malaise about the IT and technical job market in the United States. I'm interested in doing some IT work for our government in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa. I've heard it pays very well. Got any advice, or pointers, aside from the usual combing corporate websites and social networking?"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

352 comments

Why explicitly war zone? (5, Informative)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356500)

There's lots of world to see outside US and its war zones. Go to China, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore or Philippines. It's extremely easy for a westerner to find jobs in Asia if they just know something, especially in IT. Life is generally more relaxing too. I've done just that, but I don't work for anyone, I work as freelancer over the internet.

However, there's a huge amount of employers that can hire you, if you rather take a stable paycheck. This includes both westerners who have set up companies and moved there and also companies by locals. IT is huge in Asia. The funny thing is, it's also a job widely appreciated by local women, and often you find women working in IT. Really knowledgeable ones, too.

On top of that you get great weather, nice people and relaxing lifestyle. You might get marginally lower wage, but then again the cost of living is insanely smaller too.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (1)

epdp14 (1318641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356576)

I am actually pretty interested in this. I have been looking in Southeast Asia but I am having a hard time finding job postings... any recommendations? I only speak English and Spanish (which I assume is useless there), is that a problem in finding a job there?

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356616)

I agree.. I don't have any problems finding jobs in places like China, but almost all of them require Mandarin or Cantonese as a spoken language.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (5, Insightful)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356688)

As far as languages go, only speaking English shouldn't be a problem in most places (except for China, I don't really know how it's there). Philippines and Singapore is really good place if you just know English, and most people working in IT in Thailand also speak good English. Of course it always helps if you look for companies run by other westerners. There's actually lot of them, especially in Bangkok. Most are also expats who wanted to move there just like you and then set up their own company, so they are generally more relaxed people too.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (4, Interesting)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357082)

I am actually pretty interested in this. I have been looking in Southeast Asia but I am having a hard time finding job postings... any recommendations? I only speak English and Spanish (which I assume is useless there), is that a problem in finding a job there?

English would do you well in Singapore and the Philippines. Also in Tokyo or Seoul. Spanish would also come in handy in the Philippines as a lot of the Tagalog vocabulary is based/borrowed from Castillian. Spanish and English (and/or Portuguese and English) would also come in handy for many Japanese companies that do business in Latin America. My wife (she is Japanese) used to work for a Japanese company that did a ton of business in Latin America (and a lot of its business was conducted in said languages.)

From an IT perspective, English would help you a lot. And if you want to explore business opportunities, Spanish might prove an invaluable asset depending where you go.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356586)

local women from aphganistan, or Iraq ;-) ????

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (4, Interesting)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356634)

Is it common to request work in a warzone? Are those requests ever fulfilled? I'd expect some extreme security checks, since other than specifying exactly which warzone you want to go to, there's not much more of a spy-like activity you could take.

If I were running a war, as a general policy, if someone wants to work somewhere, my answer would be, "No, and by the way, follow the nice man with the sunken knuckles into that extremely bare room." Either that, or "Oh yeah absolutely" and then bugging the everloving crap out of everything you do for the rest of your life.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (4, Insightful)

sureshot007 (1406703) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356718)

What's wrong with wanting to work in a war zone? The pay is usually better, and some people like the daily excitement.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (5, Informative)

goarilla (908067) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356800)

A friend of mine was almost recruited to do this a few years ago (2005 iirc). The pay was 600 $/day in Iraq.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356892)

With your living expenses paid for too... If you are single, and willing to take the risk, that is good solid money, You can save up/invest a boat load of money. When the US picks up you can get a good job there too and with 200/300k saved up you will be on good standing.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357156)

600.00 $US (even in 2005) wasn't a lot (even with the tax breaks)
to work in a potentially life-ending environment.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357274)

That's like what... 180,000 a year? Definitely good pay, but I'd want twice that much for a warzone. I make more than that and I don't have to leave my house that often

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (3, Informative)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356908)

I have a friend who just got back this year from doing IT in Iraq. He loved it (well not the heat). He gave it up to be with his new baby. The money he made was stupidly high.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356942)

What's wrong with wanting to work in a war zone? The pay is usually better, and some people like the daily excitement.

Because gleefully exclaiming that the money is worth the risk is probably an indicator of an unstable personality at best, if not a depressed/suicidal disorder. People are *supposed* to fear death, it's what makes them generally live longer and therefore be a more reliable employee. A competent manager would have the same reservations about hiring someone who drove a 1000cc sportbike to work every day with no helmet on because they were "a busy person".

More deeply, by and large someone who has never worked in a "warzone" who says "i want to work in a warzone" should be directly enlisting in the military, as they have the resources to protect n00bs from killing themselves too easily. Someone who says "i want to freelance in a warzone for the kicks!" who has never done it before in all likelihood has NO idea what they are actually getting themselves into, and will be a risk to themselves and others until they have a significant amount of experience.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (2)

sureshot007 (1406703) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357044)

People drive sport bikes without helmets all the time in states that don't require it. Nothing unusual there.

Just because you don't fear death, that doesn't mean you have a death wish, nor does it make you an less stable. If someone came to me and said, "I will pay off all your student loans and credit card debt, buy you a brand new house, a new car, and all you have to do is work in Iraq for a year"....well if I wasn't gainfully employed, I wouldn't be crazy for considering it.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (5, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356984)

What's wrong with wanting to work in a war zone? The pay is usually better, and some people like the daily excitement.

Yeah, a friend just got back from spending most of the last two years in Afghanistan.

Apparently the rocket attacks and periodic deaths on the base were really exciting.

He said pretty much after someone got killed 75 feet from where he was standing, if he heard the warning sirens he'd hit the deck even if he was in the latrine -- he figured crap washed off, but dead didn't. One of his co-workers rattled off the number of rocket attacks, suicide bombers, and other nasties that happened while he was there -- it didn't sound like a recruiting pitch to me.

He did get well paid, but I think he's pretty glad it's over now. They call it 'danger pay' for a reason.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357164)

What's wrong with wanting to work in a war zone? The pay is usually better, and some people like the daily excitement.

Start with taking a "great job" at an office in your local neighborhood inner city and see how you like it. That's where I am. Two shootings within the last 6 years within 200 feet of our lot although no one died (as far as I know), and they pulled a dead body out of the river just a couple months ago, just a couple feet from my window, theres a sight I didn't need to see. Smashed glass everywhere and riots after the annual street festival, which was finally cancelled after two years in a row of shootings (shootings not near my office). Anyone who leaves anything in a car can expect smashed windows... I park underneath a security cam, near the door, work in the daytime, never keep anything in the car, all good so far... Siege mentality gets tiring after awhile, but at least I only have to live it for about 40 hours a week, you'd be stuck there 24x7.

There tends to be pretty intense "blame the victim" attitude in slums, maybe war zones too. She shouldn't have been wearing that outfit, walking in the parking lot after dark, he shouldn't have left anything to steal inside his car, they should have known there would be racial incidents after the street festival like every year, the victim is always to blame, that's why I personally have no reason to fear, right? Its a defense mechanism. An annoying one.

My wife and kids are categorically denied to visit me at work under any circumstances except maybe during sunlight in the winter and even then watch your back at all times, and they would only live/work in a slum over my dead body. Speaking of which, you may find family members threatening to chain you up in the basement to prevent you from going to a warzone, hard to say.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (2)

jmauro (32523) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356772)

Is it common to request work in a warzone?

Yes, mainly because it pays really, really well compaired to other jobs in the IT industry for the same level of work. Granted the hours are usually horrible (12 on/12 off for months at a time).

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (1)

Almandine (1594857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356804)

In my opinion, it's not common to request work in a warzone. In general, the companies involved will put out job postings for internal and external candidates. Those job postings will specifically spell out which warzone and the type of work involved. They will also point out the hazard pay for taking that risk.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356748)

There's lots of world to see outside US and its war zones. Go to China, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore or Philippines. It's extremely easy for a westerner to find jobs in Asia if they just know something, especially in IT. Life is generally more relaxing too. I've done just that, but I don't work for anyone, I work as freelancer over the internet.

However, there's a huge amount of employers that can hire you, if you rather take a stable paycheck. This includes both westerners who have set up companies and moved there and also companies by locals. IT is huge in Asia. The funny thing is, it's also a job widely appreciated by local women, and often you find women working in IT. Really knowledgeable ones, too.

On top of that you get great weather, nice people and relaxing lifestyle. You might get marginally lower wage, but then again the cost of living is insanely smaller too.

I've also been interested in this, but find it incredibly hard to find reliable postings. I don't know where to begin networking and wish there was a source of reliable recruiters. Please post how you did this.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357278)

It's pretty simple really. The next time you get an email from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, or just about any country you might be interested in working in just write back asking if they need an IT person to maintain their email server. Be sure and get them to front you the cash for the plane ticket.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (1)

Zedrick (764028) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356834)

> I work as freelancer over the internet.

Sounds very nice, but how do you find and get those jobs? I've been freelancing a bit too, but I only get local gigs through people I already know.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (1)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357154)

I work in SEO and webmastering, so I don't really need to find jobs from other people. Sometimes I do work for clients, but most of the time I run my own portfolio of websites that bring income from affiliate networks and advertiser deals. And signing up to those is much easier, as they aren't obligated to pay anything else than the commissions you generate based on your sales or leads.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (2)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356936)

I've lived in Thailand for 3 years over my career. It's harder now than it used to be, but you can get legitimate work locally (although telecommuting is much easier and better paying). The last year, I made a US salary (plus a little), only needed to work 40 hours a week. Down-side was my hours were 9PM-midnight and 4AM-8AM six days a week, and I was back in the US at least once a month. (Not that bad, except it was 48-hours door-door from the island I was living on.)

Singapore offers much better pay; easiest way to find work is to get on with a US company that has a presence there (oil industry is easiest).

Hong Kong is interesting as well; worked there for a year. Be prepared for liver issues later in life though...

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (2)

david.a.judge (1973214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356974)

Thailand? Cambodia? Philippines? Seriously???? Local rates of pay are around 800 USD per month are the average. There is no shortage of local talent. There are major language barriers. I've lived in Thailand for 20 years and I get asked the same question once a week by some hopeful who has come for a holiday and 'likes the lifestyle' (i.e. the women) Forget it unless you are sent on an ex-pat package by a company you are already working for, in which case it's great, but those postings are highly sort after.

Re:Why explicitly war zone? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357006)

Likely because the pay and infrastructure are better. It's difficult to relocate to a country where you don't know the language or the local customs. If there's a big military presence there, you have a handy home away from home environment built in (albeit with bullet dodging thrown into the mix); there will either be plenty of other contractors from your country there, or there will be support in the form of translators, etc that you wouldn't get elsewhere (not unless elsewhere was really serious about hiring in foreign contractors).

Contracting vs. Direct US Gov't Work (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357070)

I strongly agree with the recommendation to work internationally in non-war zones, doing work that either makes the world a better place or at least makes cheap consumer junk or entertainment but doesn't make the world worse. It's possible to see the world, meet interesting and exciting people, and not help kill them. I'm not just saying this as a peacenik hippie - I used to work for the military-industrial complex, security clearances and the whole bit, and it does mess with your head even though you get to work on interesting problems*. Don't do it. If you do want to work in a partially-American English-speaking enclave environment, oil companies are a way to do high-tech work in wild and crazy places.

The reasons to work in a war zone are either that you approve of the war or that you think you'll make a big pile of money at the risk of getting killed. So if you are going to do that, you should look into working for a contracting company, not for the US Government themselves. A friend of mine did that for a while in Iraq and then started his own company, providing computing and satellite services. You have to be a real generalist, able to handle anything from hardware installation to electrical generation in addition to the computer stuff.

(*Back in the 80s and 90s I'd have recommended working for drug smugglers in preference to working for the military, but the current cartel wars in Mexico make Blackwater and the Taliban look like friendly moral non-crazy people.)

Die in a fire. (-1, Troll)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356504)

(That was an actual advice).

Re:Die in a fire. (2)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356852)

I considered a contract that would involve IT work in Iraq, a few years ago. I saw it as a way to help rebuild and atone for my nation's stupidity. Don't judge the guy asking the question too harshly without knowing his motives.

What your mum said. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356522)

She always advised you to wear clean underwear when you went out.

In a war zone, don't bother -- the first time you hear a backfire you'll know what I mean.

Re:What your mum said. (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356678)

Get a good custom fit bullet proof vest, and keep your head down.

Also, pretend to be from Canada, they might not kidnap you quite as readily.

You also might not want to wear that crucifix...those peace loving muslims don't care much for other religious stuff in their towns.

And mind the spiders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356710)

I hear the spiders get pretty big there.

Re:And mind the spiders (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356798)

I hear the spiders get pretty big there.

You mean solifuges. [wikipedia.org] They're pretty viscious alright.

Re:And mind the spiders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356950)

Viscous or vicious?

Re:And mind the spiders (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356968)

The latter until you step on them, then the former.

be prepared... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356524)

...for someone to need to execute your will.

Stay out of warzones (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356540)

The money isn't worth it if you wind up kidnapped and looking at a video camera while they cut your head off.

Look at working in Europe or if you want to try the language China, even better Australia routinely hires for IT and they speak English (sort of).

Re:Stay out of warzones (4, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356796)

The money isn't worth it if you wind up kidnapped and looking at a video camera while they cut your head off.

Look at working in Europe or if you want to try the language China, even better Australia routinely hires for IT and they speak English (sort of).

Is the money worth it if you're killed in a car accident during rushhour traffic on your way to work in *insert city here* USA?

Life is a risk, death is always a risk, and the statistics about risk are often pretty far off what people estimate in their gut.

Re:Stay out of warzones (0)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357176)

The money isn't worth it if you wind up kidnapped and looking at a video camera while they cut your head off.

Look at working in Europe or if you want to try the language China, even better Australia routinely hires for IT and they speak English (sort of).

Is the money worth it if you're killed in a car accident during rushhour traffic on your way to work in *insert city here* USA?

Life is a risk, death is always a risk, and the statistics about risk are often pretty far off what people estimate in their gut.

Comparing the risk of getting killed in a car accident with the risk of getting (most likely violently) killed in a war zone (in particular in a war zone where foreigners get kidnapped and forced to watch a video camera while their heads get brutishly sawed off with a butcher knife), that's pretty retarded to say the least.

Re:Stay out of warzones (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357206)

The money isn't worth it if you wind up kidnapped and looking at a video camera while they cut your head off.

Look at working in Europe or if you want to try the language China, even better Australia routinely hires for IT and they speak English (sort of).

Is the money worth it if you're killed in a car accident during rushhour traffic on your way to work in *insert city here* USA?

Life is a risk, death is always a risk, and the statistics about risk are often pretty far off what people estimate in their gut.

Except in a warzone, you have to worry about the car accident AND the roadside bomb AND the sniper AND the suicide bomber... You are exactly right that humans tend to misunderstand risk, but in this case you will find that those seeking to work in a "warzone" are grossly underestimating the risk they are taking.

To put it numerically, every day in the US approximately 1 person in 3,400,000 dies in a car accident (the rate for all accidental causes is approx 1/1,000,000). Compare that to a warzone consisting of less than 250,000 Americans where the avg daily death rate is 2 per or higher, or 8 in 1,000,000. So by making this choice, you are taking a risk that is at least 8x greater than most activities found stateside.

Re:Stay out of warzones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357212)

Life is a risk, death is always a risk, and the statistics about risk are often pretty far off what people estimate in their gut.

So take an insurance on both. I'm not sure if anyone sells death insurance, but you could always hire a hitman.

Re:Stay out of warzones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357216)

Europe? Have you been here recently? Our economy is tanking on a scale that makes the US look like it's booming.

Iraq English teachers getting full convoys (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356588)

NBC showed a piece on this Monday night. Even lesser employees were getting tons of security. The employees seemed to welcome it out of nervousness. The NBC piece was part of a series on the official withdrawal from IRAQ. Even after that about 20,000 embassy employees and contractors remain in a Baghdad and Basara consulates for "diplomatic" reasons. There are several tens of thousands of troops on bases in the area that could move on short basis for an aided evacuation or such.

Re:Iraq English teachers getting full convoys (2)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356842)

I was just thinking that - just another good example of the media only showing the extremes. 1 in 30,000 getting kidnapped or killed, and that's the 1 they'll show. You have worse odds of being involved in violent crime in a lot of big cities here in the states.

I think I'd worry less about people with guns that may be interested in me when I'm surrounded by armed guards. You don't get that when walking to your car in the middle of a parking garage late at night after working some OT.

Don't get advice on Slashdot for this one (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356596)

You'll get 95% negative USA/Military comments from a bunch of people whose lives depend upon USA and its military.

Re:Don't get advice on Slashdot for this one (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356656)

whose lives depend upon USA and its military

Sure, buddy. Keep telling yourself that.

Re:Don't get advice on Slashdot for this one (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356696)

Working for one of the military's private-sector IT contractors isn't exactly the same as enlisting in the military.

Re:Don't get advice on Slashdot for this one (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356820)

Reading these replies, so far you are wrong. The only negative comment that stands out is this one.

Need security clearance (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356600)

You won't find many positions unless you have security clearance already. Companies do not want to pay for the cost of a background investigation, hence their preference for former government (military) employees.

Re:Need security clearance (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357084)

Few companies ever pay for a background investigation - that aspect is a myth.

However few companies are wiling to let you sit on the payroll for 6-12 months while the investigation completes (with no guarantee that you will be favorable adjudicated).

Middle East $$$$$$$ (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356626)

If you like $$$$$$ and can deal with ~12 months in a shithole (but generally not on the FOB or at least far from action), its a good way to pay off a mortgage (on DoD money that is). I've known folks working help-desk style roles with basic A+/MSCE/Linux/Cisco knowledge paying easily north of 100K USD.

Re:Middle East $$$$$$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356906)

I worked in the middle east, but not in a war zone. Good money, mostly tax free, living expenses paid, free travel, lots of perks. But that's because it sucks and in a war zone, you could be hurt or killed. So, if you want to make good money for a while, pay off debts, or save up, and you think the risk to personal safety is worth it, go, and maybe you'll have fun. But, remember you could be somebody we see on the news, kidnapped or killed.

Re:Middle East $$$$$$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356914)

Yeah, that's true. I was once there (Saudi) and paid my rest of my house loan over 100k then back in 6 months. Not a bad deal. Stayed there about two years till bubble bursted, got back to my university position and enjoy my life without debt since then. Didn't have to pay even a cent taxes, which was superb :) Oh, and it was not a *it hole, pretty decent actually. Did 60 to 48 hour weeks, depending on the project demands.

My advice (-1, Flamebait)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356628)

Don't help your government murder innocent people overseas. How about that?

Re:My advice (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356758)

Ok. I'll stick to having them build roads, schools, kill oppressive dictators, kill terrorists, and make the world a better place. I'd rather that we didn't have to kill to accomplish these goals, but thats what it takes.

Nonsense (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357020)

When was the last time your government engaged in an operation on this scale to help people? Did the US drop trillions on Haiti after US installed governments didn't want to make strong building codes? Do they spend trillions on developing clean drinking water solutions? No. They do these things when they want explicit control of an area. So they use military force.

Likewise, you can apply your talents to many projects that help people and involve zero killing.

Re:My advice (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357184)

"Terrorists" are people that oppose government will and interests. At the moment, "OWS" protesters are considered low-level terrorists.

I've served in the US military. I am a war-time veteran starting from Operation Desert Shield and ending with Operation Desert Storm. I know what goes on in the military (generally speaking) and I know how these things are viewed. It's all a lot of work they (we) would rather not be doing and quite a bit of it is HEAVILY doubted. You will not find many, if any, "spirited patriots" in the U.S. military service.

So from your comment, I can guess with a high degree of certainty that you have never served in the military, let alone during war-time. And if you did, you were an officer of some sort and have lost your ability to tell truth from bullshit.

Most of what the US military does is wait for orders and execute them. Now take a few steps back and look at how the military forces of the US are used and why... I mean the REAL reasons why. The US military is used to push US business and US banking interests around the world. Sometimes when the troops get too idle, they have them build stuff or do things for the children of that region, but don't believe for a second that is their primary mission.

I used to believe what you believe. Then I saw and did very different things. I know nothing I say will change your beliefs... that's what beliefs are all about after all. But since you haven't really been to those places or done any of those things, please at least preface your crap with "I have never served nor been there to see what really goes on, but..." Because I've gotta say every time I see "patriotic flag wavers" "supporting the troops" and crap like that, all I see is a parrot repeating the crap they were fed.

Malaise (5, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356646)

I'd consider that your "malaise" problem might be greater in a war zone. Your freedom of movement is constrained; you're limited to corporate-cartoon-kitsch America; and you're surrounded by an alien culture that (for safety reasons) you are unable to freely immerse yourself within.

If you were a dude that liked to save money and read books in your spare time, then it might be a good thing. But if you've got malaise now, just imagine what you'd get in Afghanistan.

Re:Malaise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356924)

On a positive note, you're making twice as much money (and working twice as many hours)

Re:Malaise (1)

Almandine (1594857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356952)

Base life isn't all that bad. In addition to books, many people watch pirated DVDs. For those who like to socialize, they can visit the MWR to go online, play console games (shooters and football are especially popular), play pool, play poker, watch TV/movies on a larger screen, etc.

Re:Malaise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357048)

I had a great time working in Afghanistan. Quite a vibrant social scene with people you share a lot in common with (you all live and work somewhere a little crazy). I'd recommend it. What can really suck it getting stuck on an army base without much freedom of movement and you're pretty much living and working in a large prison. Though for those jobs you can get paid very well and civilians can get plenty of time off (4 weeks in / 2 weeks out) so for some it works. I'd suggest staying away from that, learning some of the local language (Dari in Afghanistan is quite easy), and spending time with the interesting people, both local and expat, that you'll meet.

Good clothing (5, Informative)

Strider- (39683) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356680)

As someone who's been over there a number of times, my advice is to invest in some good clothing for there. As crazy as it seems, the best way to beat the heat in the desert is to cover up. Long, loose pants made from lightweight fabric and similar for shirts (along with silk-weight polypro undershirts) will keep you significantly more comfortable than your typical cotton t-shirt. Also, a good wide-brimmed boonie hat is worth it.

Basically, the idea is to keep the sun off your skin, the air flowing, and wick the sweat away from your skin.

Re:Good clothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357200)

What about staying comfortable in cold climates?

Germany (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356720)

Of course, Germany is not a warzone at the moment (and has not been since WW2), but the economy is currently going very good (especially due to massive exports to emerging economies), which means there are lots of open positions for engineers and scientists but also technical writers. You have to accept quite high taxes and social security/healthcare/retirement insurance contributions, though.

There are quite a few english-speaking professionals working in many German companies, so it should be easy for Americans to find work here. The federal employment agency has a quite useful search engine with hundreds of thousands of openings:

http://jobboerse.arbeitsagentur.de/vamJB/stellenangeboteFinden.html?execution=e1s1&d_6827794_p=1

You can used Google translate to get a rough idea about the jobs. Just send in a header letter (why you apply), a tabular CV and your formal certificates (school, college diplomas, MCSE diplomas and the like) and statements of previous employmers (if you have such) in a big PDF file. I am sure many companies here would love to hire qualified Americans !

Re:Germany (1)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357144)

Given the parlous state of the entire Eurozone at the moment you'd have to be a shill or blinkered by the propaganda of your country's press to consider the economy of any of the Eurozone countries as "going very good". Whilst Germany is probably in a better state than most of the Eurozone, it would only take one default from one of the smaller nations to result in a long-term down cycle.

Not all war zones are created equal (5, Informative)

hakioawa (127597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356724)

I worked in Qatar (not in IT), which is technically a war zone by USG standards. It is also the wealthiest country on the planet and obscenely safe. I didn't even bother to lock my door. The pay there was good, but not insanely good. I looked into IT work in Afghanistan and would have made ~$300K. That job would require two things. 1) A USG security clearance and 2)willingness to literally be on the front lines and get shot at. Not all war zone are created equal. Pay will reflect that.

Now you will probably hear a lot of folks talking about the danger etc. Yes, it is a war zone, but your odds of being killed are very low. I'd say your two biggest concerns in a place like Iraq are: 1) dying in a traffic accident, which would be just as likely in India of SE asia. 2) Dying of boredom. THAT is the big issue. These places are boring. And the security you are forced to endure will piss off most geeks. You see it, it is designed to slow you and everyone else down. There is a lot of theater and it can get tedious.

That said, If you spend all your free time indoors reading obscure tech blogs, then I say go for it.

Re:Not all war zones are created equal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356818)

Any tips/resources on how to actually get into this?

This isn't the place to ask (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356760)

This isn't the place to ask. Network around and be aware that you're going to need a security clearance. If you don't already have one, and you somehow do get the job, be prepared to sit on the bench from three to twelve months doing busy-work while you wait your clearance to be adjudicated.

Stay away (3, Informative)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356802)

Stay away from war zones.

Jobs in these areas are glamorous - they seem exciting and adventurous, but in reality they are extremely boring and needlessly dangerous. If that's not enough, you'll feel socially excluded because you're not a soldier in a place where almost everyone else is and you're disconnected from "real life" where civilians like yourself thrive. On top of all that, working in rigid bureaucratic organizations like the armed forces can drive people up the wall. You'll feel like you're immersed in stupid. Watch Generation Kill for a very credible illustration of that.

In summary, don't do it.

Ask to work from home (3, Insightful)

drunkahol (143049) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356806)

Works for me.

Seriously. They have interwebs and everything out there. Leave the kidnappings to the oil engineers and charity workers.

Advice (5, Informative)

strikethree (811449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356830)

I worked in the Middle East as a contractor for six years. Two and a half of those years I was under fire in Iraq. Here is some advice:

Be prepared to live well outside your comfort zone. If you are working in a nice place, you will have shower trailers and restroom trailers... but most places are not nice.

Temperatures are extreme. I saw multiple thermometers claim a temp of 142F one day (July 2005 Baghdad). None of the official reports mention temps that high. Afghanistan is not so hot but it gets MUCH colder.

Be prepared to keep your wits about you as the explosive devices start flying over barriers and blowing shit (and humans) up nearby. I was able to put up with it for two and half years at which point I knew that if I stayed longer, I was going to change (permanently?) mentally in ways that were not desirable. You can only ignore the possibility of getting shredded for only so long... One of my coworkers died in Fallujah in... 2006 I think. He was the only employee from my company to die. A mortar round essentially landed on his head. His coworkers had to clean his brains and bone fragments out of the equipment to get it operational again. Could you do that?

You will not really be making that much money even if it seems like a lot compared to what you are used to. Do NOT spend all of your money. There will be some surprises down the road and you want the cash to be available.

More about money: You will not be making that much money forever. I knew several people who bought $600,000+ houses and then were not offered to be recontracted (either due to the company losing the contract or that person was just not wanted). Live a lifestyle like you have now and when everything is done, you will be well off. If you choose to live the high life, expect a harsh period of ... ahem... "lifestyle readjustment".

Take a durable laptop with you. If you do not play 3D video games, see if you can find one without a fan (dust buildup). Bring lots of large capacity laptop style external drives with you.

I am sure there is more. If you want, I can even refer you if you send me your resume. I have done that with two people from Slashdot already. One died (statistically very very unlikely but the real world does not care about statistics). :(

Re:Advice (1)

Almandine (1594857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357332)

That's a pretty helpful post. One doesn't miss potable water until only non-potable water is available. Skin moisturizers are also pretty important I think. Bring some in case there isn't any in the BX/PX.

Lots of opinions (1)

muddyh2o (2486274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356856)

I'm with the OP. What are the best ways to find these jobs for someone with some skills, but perhaps not a government clearance or experience in the shit? Lots of replies and opinionating (which is why we love the /.ers) but give me some solid pointers please.

Re:Lots of opinions (2)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357012)

getting one without a clearance, and most contractors have a marked preference for someone with prior military experience (because it demosntrates you're mentally and physically up for it). But beyond that, if you're willing to go, just send your resume to a defense contractor that does these things, indicating clearly your willingness to deploy to afghanistan. L-3 or Mantech have some of the biggest contracts I am personally aware of, but there are many others. However, its always hard to get your first job requiring a securtiy clearance, because many companies simply can't use you to do ANYTHING until you have it.

Some things to bear in mind: The money is good, but only with the completion bonus -- if you don't think you can do it, don't bother applying. The hours are BRUTAL (and that's part of why the money is so good. Even if you're 'salaried' you get paid by the hour and its 84 hours a week until your R&R. Oh . . . and don't assume you'll have an internet connection, although I know several people out there who banded together to buy their own satellite connection while in theatre, and in Baghdad, at least, they had their own private (free!) WoW server at one point . . .

Job postings (1)

slashdoter (151641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356862)

Does anyone have a good source for IT work in places that would dictate high pay? I know a guy looking for a contractor for Afghanistan but it is a sub contract on a sub contract of a contract and everyone is guarding who they work for. I'd love a place that listed dangerous jobs that pay real well.

clearancejobs.com (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357132)

But it's hard to jump right on, get a clearance and go to a war zone.

Better to find a local job that requires a SECRET clearance, get it and they get you your clearance. Then get another local job that requires upgrading to TS. Then put yourself in clearancejobs.com and go for the $$$.

Alot of the good jobs are gone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356900)

For the USG most of the $200K IT jobs are gone. With all the wars being ended they are being consolidated and needs are shrunk.
Also the pay was not really that high, it averaged in $120K range, if you had experience and did not want to worry about bullets being fired all the time, more if in a bullet flying area and depending on skills. What gave the people the really nice salaries was working huge hours overtime, 12-14 hours/6-7 days a week. What else are you going to do.
Some of the higher paying salaries are still there but the overtime is gone you are now on a working standard 40 hour weeks.

Don't do it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356912)

As a former active US Marine nothing is more irritating than a private contractor, or generally any civilians in a battle space.

I am a Signal Officer currently in Afghanistan (5, Interesting)

IDtheTarget (1055608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356926)

I'm a Major in the National Guard, a Signal Officer currently deployed to Afghanistan. That whole thing about getting kidnapped is B.S. All of the contractors here fly on the same helicopters that we do, or drive in the same convoys that we do. They get the same security and eat in the same DFACs. The only real difference is that they don't go around armed, unless they're the Law Enforcement Professionals (LEPs) or security contractors.

For the most part they stay on the Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) just like those of us not actually out on a mission. They work six months and go home on leave (I can't remember if it's 2 weeks or a month). It's all in their contract.

When I finished my Iraq tour, I was offered $250k per year to take over managing the I.T. section at a major Iraqi FOB. I was bone-weary from the deployment and just wanted to go home, so I didn't take them up on it. One of my soldiers here was offered $125k to come back and work in the I.T. department at BAF after the tour. She's still thinking about it.

Ignore most of the B.S. that's being posted here, they have zero idea what they're talking about. The pay is high, as is the security. The downside is the hours that you work. 12-18 hour days, with no days off is the norm. It gets to you after awhile.

Believe it or not, one of the things that really gets to you over here is the lack of GREEN. At least the FOBs I've been to, I am SICK and TIRED of sand and gravel, tan and grey. My wife emails me pictures of our lawn so i have something green to look at...

Nuremberg precedent: you will be a war criminal (1, Interesting)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356944)

The precedent from the Nuremberg trials is that if you participate in the military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq, this makes you a war criminal. Indeed the Nuremberg defense that you are following superior orders doesn't even apply because you are going there voluntarily.

And while I don't believe you will be held accountable for your crimes in a court of law, I see no compelling reason for you to do this. It is dangerous. As others have said you can work in plenty of countries. You can also find many lines of work like financial planning that only require minimal additional training and certification.

So my advice is there are plenty of other better opportunities to pursue, and you would be wrong for doing it. So your proposed plan of action is completely illogical.

Re:Nuremberg precedent: you will be a war criminal (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357324)

War Crimes only get applied to the losers. Not really a problem for an American at this point in time.

Good opportunities if you can find them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356958)

I spent three years working as an IT contractor in Iraq. I would expect that the opportunities in Iraq are dwindling due to the troop withdrawal, as the majority of those contracting opportunities were in support of the U.S. military. First question: Do you have a DoD Secret or better clearance? It will be much easier to find work if you do. You may be able to find opportunities in Afghanistan and Kuwait, and also in Bahrain and Qatar, as those are the theater command locations for remaining operations in southwest Asia and Afghanistan. Fluor, ITT, DRS, and most all of the beltway bandits (Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, etc.) have or have had contracts in SWA. Unfortunately, unless you have networked with folks who have worked there, your best option is to comb the job sites. Search their job sites for jobs in those countries. If you are less adventurous and the job is in a combat zone (Afghanistan)and your safety is a concern, be sure to determine where the job location is (they may not tell you exactly where due to security concerns,) and whether it requires regular travel outside of the wire.

Personal Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38356964)

I pulled just over 3 months in Djibouti at Camp Lemmonier (Africa 10KM from Somalia border - 40KM from Yemen coast) back in late 2009-2010. First you need a clearance...very little IT work takes place without at LEAST a Secret clearance. Second... go look at the web sites for the bases over there. If it looks bleak, remember that is the positive spin...it is most likely much much worse. I hope you don't have privacy issues...you'll most likely share a shower/bathroom with 100 other guys. No beer allowed in Iraq and Afghanistan...Djibouti allowed 3 beers a day max on base. Hard liquor is forbidden.

Get used to the idea that your life is always at risk in some way. Iraq and Afghanistan bases get infrequent rocket and sniper attacks that kill military and civilian alike. Djibouti hosts it's share of nasty poisonous reptiles. Nothing like Australia, but finding a Death Adder under the Help Desk front stairs will wake anyone up.

Camp Lemmonier was the primary support base for all of Africa when I was there. The wireless public access for the base operated at dial-up speeds (no joke). There was very little on-base entertainment. A bar for beer and wine, a movie theater, a lending library, and a TV lounge were about it. They were adding some lines to the CLUs (hee hee...containerized living units - look them up). Speaking of CLUs those are the best you can hope for housing... the unlucky go into those huge tents like the ones you see on TV.

That covers it...if you can stand doing without a lot you take for granted. The pay can be awesome...

Be prepared... (1)

Simulant (528590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356976)

I did IT work for the military during a war but not in a war zone and it was the worst job of my life. Military IT is a nightmare even without the possibility of being shot at. The bureaucracy will probably kill you first. Then there's the moral dilemma of the war itself. How 'patriotic' or mercenary are you?

Finally, be warned that the Mil IT jobs are rarely as described. I was quite shocked at how different the reality was.

Jealousy (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356978)

Expect jealousy from the non-contractor types, like enlisted soldiers. I was in their boots (admittedly stateside) and we treated the contractors with exactly the required level of professionalism and otherwise not a droplet more as we hated them for doing our jobs for "ten times the pay" (actually it was probably only twice, but no reasoning with jealousy) ... Its a difficult workplace environment. If you make 10x what a grunt makes, expect them to really onload on you if you make a microscopic mistake. Also expect to listen politely and agreeably like a bartender, about how they are stuck there for years whereas you could theoretically stand up, walk out and leave; 19 year old soldiers don't understand the whole concept of "contract" and "having to pay the mortgage back home" and "having to pay for food and medical care" very well, so they really do think you can do that...

On the other hand, in a warzone, maybe there is more camaraderie?

The most important thing you can do to make friends, is figure out what the grunts are not easily able to do and then "help them out" in a way that gets no one in trouble, untraceable, is more or less legal or at least "blind eye" situation, and makes you friends. Back in the day, civilian contractors were "expected" to provide us with warez for our personal laptops in the pre-wide public availability of internet access (note personal laptop in Army speak, is like "personal weapons", things you own and paid for and use solely in your downtime, not personal as in merely army issued "work laptop", it would be dumb to mess with army issued hardware). Also they were expected to provide us with alcohol for all party reasons, not sure how well that works overseas in Islamic countries, but the "rich contractors" were expected to buy us rounds at the bar, not the other way around. On the other hand don't do anything stupid with serial number items or or using classified rated hardware to run unclassified level software. Also be aware of certain army traditions, like you'd share ammo with your buddy if he was out, or you'd share food if he had none, or you'd share medical supplies if he had a sucking chest wound, so expect near violent response if you don't share your mp3 files with anyone who asks, thats just kinda how it is in the Army. Same with pr0n jpegs and movie files. Also paperback books. If there is a paperback book in your possession, and you are not currently reading it, its a major social error to not instantly hand it to someone who wants to read it, so don't bring your signed 1st edition copy of LOTR or something and expect to hoard it until you return home, unless you do literally read it over and over the whole time.

Re:Jealousy (3, Informative)

Strider- (39683) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357204)

On the other hand, in a warzone, maybe there is more camaraderie?

In my case, at least, that was my experience. Back in 2006, I spent 3 months bouncing around Iraq and Afghanistan fixing and upgrading satcoms gear for PAO shops all over the place. It really was an excellent experience for me, as the soldiers and marines I worked with really did seem to appreciate my presence. On more than a few occasions, I got invited out to unit barbecues etc... (and yes, I always made sure to bring something to the party, even if it was just a case of coke from the PX). The real key is that I was more or less immersed with the troops, living with them, and eating with them. I wasn't working for one of the big contracting firms, so I was living in the transient tents just like they were.

The pay isn't actually better. (4, Insightful)

danguyf (631016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38356994)

Offers to work in combat zones initially look great. They'll back a dump truck full of money up to your house and all you have to do is go have an adventure overseas for 12-18 months. Woo!

The reality is that you'll be working 7 days a week, 18 hours a day. It's expected of you, everyone is doing it, and if you did try to work 8 hour days you would quickly go nuts from boredom because there is nothing to do. There are only so many magazines and videos and games around. Your office will be hot like an oven from all the desktop machines. If you're lucky the server closets will be a little cooler. You will be working harder, in those 18 hours a day, then you've ever had to work before.

If you want that kind of life, get an IT job on an oil rig. Or take a break from IT and go work on an Alaskan fishing boat. The hours, money, boredom, and stress levels are basically the same.

Re:The pay isn't actually better. (4, Insightful)

danguyf (631016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357072)

Ugh. I forgot to return to the title. So that $150-160k/year they offered you, when you work it out for 18 hours a day 7 days a week, comes to $22-24/hour.

That's like making $50k/year at a regular 9-5 job.

Saw "Buried"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357110)

... and now I'm scared to work in a war-torn country.

Don't take off your flac jacket (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38357172)

EVER!

Get on while the gravy train is still in service (2)

Ponga (934481) | more than 2 years ago | (#38357280)

I've worked in the defense sector and although I have not signed up for one of these gigs, I know plenty of people that have. It's true that if you are worth your salt (or look good on paper), can obtain a secret clearance and willing to sacrifice a year of your life working 15 hours a day, every day... you can make $250 in a year in Afghanistan. Good places to look are the company websites: L3, SRI and STG - there are many more. Also job fairs in military towns. HOWEVER, if you really want to do this, get on while the getting is good. As you may know, the US trying to fold up it's many operations in SWA and other combat theaters, plus while the government is going broke, it's going to be hard for the DoD to justify paying a quarter million a year for each contractor working in these places... knowing what I know from my days in the DoD, I suspect this gravy train will come to screeching halt... and soon.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...