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Networking in the Danger Zone?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the would-you-take-the-risk? dept.

Businesses 691

Croaker-bg asks: "I currently am an Information Security/ Network Engineer for a large government contract firm and have recently seen several solicitations come across email regarding gigs in the Middle East and surrounding regions, including both Iraq and Afghanistan. Understanding that the pay might be good for being willing to face the hazards, I continue to have my curiosity perked by these short-term jaunts. Lately however, the news of fellow contractors being abducted has put a new spin on the hazards of working abroad in these areas. Has anyone survived such a trip and lived to tell the tale with a fat wallet? If so, would you consider doing it again or is it just to dangerous?"

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691 comments

no time for love dr jones (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469413)

you cant spend money when your dead.

You'd be better off becoming a drug dealer (5, Interesting)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469421)

Seriously. Mods - hear me out before hitting "troll." Stand on the street and sell weed. You would make a lot of money. Yes, it's true that if things go badly you end up in jail. But if things go badly in Iraq, you end up dead. Death is permanent. With jail, you get out after a year or two, and you have a chance to put your life back together.

Re:You'd be better off becoming a drug dealer (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469461)

(Score:-1, Interesting)

You are the King of the Trolls!

Re:You'd be better off becoming a drug dealer (1, Insightful)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469477)

Death by terrorists is, literally, nothing, after a few possible days of torture and a few years of good job, followed by practically worldwide sympathy. Jail is a few years of you rotting, preceded by a few years of an illegal job below your knowledge, followed by a criminal record.

I would prefer the void of death to the destroyed life of jail. Frankly, I wonder why this guy facing the death penalty is fighting to the Supreme Court for life in prison; isn't death preferable?

Not worth it (4, Insightful)

blaberski (215844) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469424)

I wouldn't go. When you are in the military at least you have a gun and can shoot back. As a contractor, your kind of on your own.

Re:Not worth it (2, Interesting)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469451)

As a contractor, you also aren't required to go to the front lines and shoot people (although to be fair, there seems to be multiple uses of the word contracter; the one being this use, the other being people such as the CIA civilian ``contractor'' being charged for beating an Iraqi civilian to death).

Re:Not worth it (4, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469455)

Please point out where the front lines are in the Iraq War.

Re:Not worth it (5, Insightful)

unitron (5733) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469511)

For Paul Johnson the front lines stretched across the border into Saudia Arabia. Look for them to keep spreading.

Re:Not worth it (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469559)

I am aware of that, it's one reason that I am highly upset about the complete and total lack of border security in the USA. If farm workers can cross the border, so can those that care man portable missles.

Re:Not worth it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469624)

who the fuck do you expect to pick the tomatoes and mop the supermarket floors and mow the lawns and unclog the toilets you fuck stick

Re:Not worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469560)

All around you. The war in iraq is still in guerrilla stage and you could get shot from any direction. No matter if you're carrying gun or not. To them, it's enough to kill you if you look foreign.

Re:Not worth it (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469562)

Easy. The al-Anbar province, and what you in America know as the "Sunni Triangle". This is an area where you're likely to be kidnapped based on the color of your skin, and the dress you wear. (There's also a danger of kidnapping just because you look rich--nothing political, just for money.) Generally, the Turkomen and Kurdish areas are safe, as are places controlled by Falah al-Naqib. (Perhaps you recognize the name--he's the Interior minister.)

Was your question about the "front lines" serious, or some sort of display of ignorance?

Get your facts straight! (4, Informative)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469533)

the other guy was an Afghan POW, not Iraqi civilian.

To contribute to the grandparent's discussion, as far as I know you are kind of supposed to know how to deal with a gun if you are a civilian contractor down there, or at least carry it. (Got the story from a lady working for one of the aerospace companies who was visiting Iraq briefly, and she told that you are given a gun to hold and at least pretend that you know how to use it).

As to the actual 'Ask /." question -- I think that the editors are either in very-long-latency mode or entirely detached from the rest of the world. The poor guy was killed today!

To answer the question, I guess that my wife would not let me go there...

Paul B.

Re:Get your facts straight! (5, Insightful)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469571)

You're right that he was an Afghan and not an Iraqi, but according to ABC [go.com], ``Abdul Wali went to a U.S. base in Afghanistan on his own accord and surrendered to authorities. They suspected him of participating in rocket attacks against the base and he wanted to clear things up.''

Whether or not he was truly a civilian, of course, remains to be seen. But given that he voluntarily surrendered in order to ``clear things up''? I give him the benefit of the doubt. At least enough to refrain from beating him to death.

Re:Not worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469589)

There are other ways to defend yourself. I would not go, nor would i suggest anyone else go, with out first completing a coarse in Krav Maga / Haganah (Such as fight2survive.com) or something similar, even if you will be allowed to carry a firearm of edged weapon. Haganah covers armed and unarmed combat, dealing with armed attackers (knives and guns) when you are unarmed, etc...

Something intended for sparing competitions like WTF Olympic Taekwondo (www.wtf.org) is far less than ideal for real world combat / street fighting. Krav Maga on the other hand, doesn't work very well for sparing, but for real world encounters, it is very effective, and practical...

Just fit in (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469426)

Don't use deodorant and they'll never guess you're not a native

Where are these jobs? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469429)

I'd go. How do I sign up? Monster doesn't really carry that kind of stuff, and some basic Google searches didn't turn up much. Do I email Halliburton or something?

Are you joking? (5, Insightful)

SinaSa (709393) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469431)

You have to ask yourself the (deliberatley skewed left by me) question "Is the lure of money so great on me that I would leave my country to work somewhere where they are kidnapping people exactly like me?

This isn't an opportunity. You aren't "helping shape a newborn government" or whatever. Even if you're Christian, Iraq is the oldest place on earth. If you need the money, do it. Otherwise, don't.

Re:Are you joking? (5, Insightful)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469464)

Some (not I) would say you're doing your part to help rebuild. I find it much more likely you're doing your part to help line a government contractor's wallet (the likes of Halliburton).

Don't risk your life. (3, Insightful)

Wig (778245) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469433)

Your life is worth infintely more than any amount of money. People who do this must be crazy. Do you really want to be beheaded because you want a new Mercedes?

You risk your life every day you live (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469537)

Yes, the Middle East is a dangerous place right now. (Particularly for Westerners.) However, people do have a tendency of exaggerating the danger because of the context.

For example: just a few years ago, seven people were gunned down [cnn.com] at a computer engineering firm in Massachusetts. But if I were offered a job in Massachusetts, I doubt that questions of personal safety would even enter my mind.

Of course I'm not saying the Middle East is safer than Massachusetts (though if it keeps you from eating at McDonald's too often, it may well be)! But don't let high profile shock stories bias your judgement too much.

A Rescue Disk... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469434)

Might be of use to you on your trip.

Re:A Rescue Disk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469500)

And just in case that doesn't work, as a backup you should bring a roll of Life Savers!

Re:A Rescue Disk... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469565)

That could be useful, if you forgot to bring an Escape Key.

Re:A Rescue Disk... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469613)

They have no Control keys over there now.

Ah, right. (-1, Troll)

Caeda (669118) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469435)

This implies you'd actually be enough of a moron to go and try it? As if the fact that it's our "Wonderful" --sarcasm president's Pet War isn't enough to drive you out of it, the fact that it's being repeatedly expressed that they do not want us over there should be. Why would you want to be shot at, possibly abducted and in that mess anyway.

i've always wanted to do this... (2, Interesting)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469436)

but every time I start giving it some real thought someone else gets abducted and murdered. I don't know what the pay rate is, i'm more interested in just the experience but i dunno if i'm confotable with the risks.

..maybe northern Iraq with the Kurds, from what i understand things are pretty stable there.

Re:i've always wanted to do this... (2, Insightful)

hdd (772289) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469472)

yeah sure, saudi arabia was pretty stable too...

Ask this guy (4, Informative)

eagl (86459) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469437)

Ask this guy: http://www.savagenet.com/expat/viewforum.php?f=1

My first first! (1)

hdd (772289) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469438)

I don't know, i would not risk my life for money, you chance being abducted is probably higher than wining lottery jackpot. As you said you already have a stable job, i don't understand why you would want to leave all that behind?

Don't do it for the money. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469439)

That's all I have to say.

I certainly wouldn't do it (1)

google (125927) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469443)

I don't think that they are ready for the geek brigades yet; let the Army communications officers handle it until it dies down. I'm sure they'll still pay handily in a few months.

OTOH, you'd probably be in the back someplace... but you never know...

*in song* (4, Funny)

xsupergr0verx (758121) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469447)

Tellllnet into the danger zone!

Tom Cruise would be so proud of me.

Re:*in song* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469462)

aww, you only gave him a 1? That was worth more than that :(

New danger (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469449)

Before people were taken as hostages, now they are being taken as sacrifices (in a way). I don't think theres many ways we can apply old stories to Afganistan and Iraq.

Money is worth alot but it can't buy you back your life.

Use Common Sense! (2, Interesting)

Space_Soldier (628825) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469452)

While I have never been there, nor do I have a job in networking, or one at all, all I can say is that you should never travel or work alone. Find a way to get some protection. Get a gun, and some self-defence classes before you go. I have been in Middle East. I have lived in Israel for a few years and got an Israeli citizenship.

Only one way... (0, Flamebait)

Timex (11710) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469453)

...they would get me to go: Arm me to the teeth, and train me in the proper use of the weapon(s). If I had to go over there as a civilian, I want to be an armed one. If, however, they want to put me in a military uniform to go, that's okay with me.

The al-Quaeda fanatics need to be stopped. They don't care about anyone but themselves. Everything they are doing is only hurting the Iraqi people.

Re:Only one way... (2, Interesting)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469492)

The DoD was recently debating if civilian contractors should be allowed to arm themselves.

The fact that they where even debating the issue should give you pause.

Re:Only one way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469538)

So they are debating if normal civilian contractors can now carry arms like the mercenary "civilian contractors" are already doing?

Re:Only one way... (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469576)

I would bet those aren't DoD contractors that you are calling mercanary, they are more likely to be CIA or another intel outfit.

Re:Only one way... (4, Informative)

azav (469988) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469516)

One of my friends is over there in the service.

Whether you think the war is right or not, he is there and feels like he is "serving his country." This is not your average yahoo.

Anyway, he sums it up like this. 60% of the people want us there, 20 percent don't care and would like us to get out as soon as we can and the reamaining 20% are completely insane and un/miseducated fanatics.

If you're interested in reading his blog, he is at :
http://www.missick.com

Enlightening reads whether you agree with his views or not.

Hope you find this worthwhile.

Re:Only one way... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469521)

The Americans need to be stopped. They don't care about anyone but themselves. Everything they are doing is only hurting the Iraqi people.

Is your cup half empty or half full?

Re:Only one way... (1, Flamebait)

krumms (613921) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469527)

lol, meanwhile the Americans are piling naked Iraqi's on top of one another.

This helps the Iraqi people how?

Re:Only one way... (1)

PerlMonkey (323967) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469596)

It removes their outdates taboos towards unlimited sexual self-expression. But the flashlights are too small, quite frankly.

Re:Only one way... (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469603)

Amazing that a couple prison guards can be "the Americans".

That's like saying that the muslims are flying airplanes into our buildings.

Get a life.

Re:Only one way... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469534)

The al-Quaeda fanatics need to be stopped. They don't care about anyone but themselves. Everything they are doing is only hurting the Iraqi people.


Huh? And what precisely do the al-Quaeda fanatics have to do with Iraq?

Unless all of our western intelligence agencies have failed miserably, al-Quaeda people only began moving in Iraq as a direct result of Gulf War 2...

Re:Only one way... (4, Insightful)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469546)

According to the 9/11 Commission [9-11commission.gov], "[w]e have no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."

I fully agree that violent fanatics need to be stopped, be they Muslim suicide bombers or Christian crusaders in the guise of American patriots.

Re:Only one way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469608)

Please...

One of the '93 WTC bombers was given sanctuary in iraq. And put on the payroll, and given money. To say that they were not involved with al qaeda is crap.
One good thing that bush has said(among many other idiotic things)is 'either you are with us or you are against us'. Terrorism is not something to sit on the fence about.

Re:Only one way... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469569)

In case you have all forgotten, those contractors that were taken out of their convoy, dragged, beaten, and then burned while being hung from a bridge WERE ARMED. Some were civilian body guards, HEAVILY ARMED. One more point to ponder - our US military, namely US Marines, are over there being killed daily. Granted you probably wont be on the front lines. You will probably be back in a somewhat safer area. But from what I have seen and my own experience I would rather be up front with the guns and somebody who I KNOW has my six covered. Where I can call in the big guns if I have to. I cant believe they let americans wander around at all over there without being heavily protected.
I just regret that younger soldiers are over there now because we were not allowed to finish it when I was there.

Just my two cents
(from an infantry marine, gulf war, take 1)

Re:Only one way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469615)

"The al-Quaeda fanatics need to be stopped. They don't care about anyone but themselves. Everything they are doing is only hurting the Iraqi people."

The real problem and dilema is that no Iraqi will believe this as long as a single American remains in Iraq!

Did you not hear of that poll that was leaked out of the US military the other day? American military pollsters actually interviewed Iraqis on the street and asked their opinion of Americans. The jist of it was that almost no Iraqis are willing to tolerate Americans under any circumstances!

By the way, I saw this on Canadian TV. I hope it also appeared on USA TV networks. Did it?

Re:Only one way... (3, Insightful)

Ultra Magnus (312814) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469617)

>The al-Quaeda fanatics need to be stopped. They don't care about anyone but themselves. Everything they are doing is only hurting the Iraqi people.

Wow, that could totally be rewritten as:
The American fanatics need to be stopped. They don't care about anyone but themselves. Everything they are doing is only hurting the Iraqi people.

You're not alone (5, Informative)

Solidsnot (169219) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469454)

Many of us in the military, especially the one's seperating from the military, are getting these same offers. Its definitely tempting to some of these guys but all of them passed on it. Who wants to go do their same job that they were doing in the military and not have at least some sort of self protection, ie. M16, M9 pistol, squad of Marines behind you......

Hats Off (2, Interesting)

BoldAC (735721) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469457)


Big props go to you guys who are not letting the terrorists scare you away. You are indeed pioneers! It's like the ole west over there with money to be made in the face of great danger.

If you can look at those pictures on drudge and still bring yourself to go... you deserve the big dollars for your brass balls.

Those people are living in a phucked up world right now... they need honest people over there to help them... and to let them know that the basic American is not the military that they fear.

AC

Re:Hats Off (1)

hdd (772289) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469497)

take your time...show us your ball...next thing you know, you head is on the groud...weak...

Re:Hats Off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469520)

It's like the ole west over there with money to be made in the face of great danger.

Argh, it's not like the "old west". It's like the "present, past, and future middle east".

The middle east will always be a dangerous place for a westerner. Sprinkling some magic dust (and more than a few bombs) will not undo the difference between their society and ours.

FYI Job Seekers. Surival Tips (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469466)

1u servers can be useful as weapons in the event of an attempted abduction.

Steps to avoid abduction.

1.) Yank server out of cabinet
2.) Lift server over head
3.) Strike assailent with server.
4.) Repeat as necessary

Re:FYI Job Seekers. Surival Tips (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469504)

Really now, what makes you think that a slashdoter, most of whom have never seen the outside of their parents basement, could even possibly lift a server over their heads?

Why would you chance it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469469)

If you play the lottery, you are less likely to win than to be killed in those places, but if you win you will get a whole lot more money. Uhm... I'm going to bed.

money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469470)

you can't spend it if your head gets cut off

Re:money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469561)

you can't spend it if your head gets cut off

Here's a buck 4 ya -->> $1.00.

Now prove it fucker!

Life isn't safe (1, Insightful)

jhoger (519683) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469474)

You can die anywhere you are at any time for any number of reasons. Like that Northen Exposure episode where the satellite falls on the guy... What's your likelihood of being abducted by terrorists in Saudi Arabia? Not very high. Even if you are there. Certainly not relative to any other of a number of ways you could die.

You can lock yourself up in your house if you want to. It just depends on how you want to live.

If you are really concerned about your life being out of control and in the hands of terrorists, just get fitted with one of those poison teeth. Then at least you can save yourself from suffering while you die.

Myself, I don't spend any time worrying about it.

I did... (5, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469478)

I had the chance to work in Johannesburg. At the time it was "the most dangerous city in the world outside of a war zone." I was there for 4 months, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. While there, my co-worker was on a contract on New York. This was around 9-11... He saw the towers fall in person. You can die anyplace. Be careful, take precautions, be aware, and you have a better chance. Do the math... How many people have been killed in New York in the last 6 months? The risks may be higher in the mid-east, but how much higher? Especially with you watching everything around you?

I recommend you to forget it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469480)

Its highly recommended to forget it, because you are on the list of targets (your type specifically), there is no money on earth that can give you your life back, nor do you take any money to the other side whatever you consider it be.

And be sure if it was my country that was in the situation of afghanistan, iraq or saudi, I would most probably be out hunting or helping hunters, and im quite an average joe.

What ARE you thinking? (2, Interesting)

malus (6786) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469485)

NO NO No and more no.

You are not a target for some whack-job and their Whoopie-knife. Keep your head right where it belongs, atop your shoulders.

Greed, quite literally, KILLS these days.

Whatever happened to the Army Corps Of Engineers? (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469486)

I thought the whole point of having an Army Corps Of Engineers was so that when technical skills were needed in a war zone, the Army would be able to provide them.

Re:Whatever happened to the Army Corps Of Engineer (3, Insightful)

AndyChrist (161262) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469578)

I thought the whole point of having an Army Corps Of Engineers was so that when technical skills were needed in a war zone, the Army would be able to provide them.

The problem with that arrangement is that if there are profits to be made from the teat of the US taxpayer (or local oil money), the Corps of Engineers cannot provide them.

Don't (2, Insightful)

nailchipper (461706) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469487)

Greed is a dangerous thing. And now, you can die for it. Make a risky business move, do something that hasn't been done before and see where that takes you. Don't risk risk your life.

Actually, do if you want. I wouldn't.

pics (5, Informative)

Phrack (9361) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469488)

see this gallery of a contractor's 1year stint in afghanistan.

http://www.darchiver.com/gallery/Vince

well, some personal pics in there as well. skip those.

Re:pics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469586)

What, no pr0n?

I'll pass.

Hazard Pay (5, Informative)

Geminus (602334) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469489)

I know of several former coworkers who are there right now. You can chech out two of their websites here [ilovemyhazardpay.com] and here [uberforce.com]. I have been approached by these companies as well, and my expedited passport ($188.00) should be here next week. $120K/yr is too enticing for me to pass this up. Additionally, if you're doing IT work and are worried about danger, pick Kuwait as it is the safest environment. I'm married with two kids, and this certainly seems like a good option for mom to finally have a house. Keep in mind that the captured contractors mostly put themselves in danger by being in open public areas... IT guys are very well protected, probably because they are required to have an active secret clearance.

Re:Hazard Pay (1)

microTodd (240390) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469622)

I don't want to sound like a snob, but is 120K/year all they are offering? The mean salaries for a reasonably experienced SysAdmin is in the 70s-80s (http://newweb.sage.org/salsurv/). Is 40K more really that much? Its not like you could come back after a year and suddenly buy a new house with cash or anything.

I'd do it (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469490)

If I weren't so hard-of-hearing, and getting married in a month, and had the right technical skills, I'd go down there.

There's been what, two contractors killed/kidnapped? Out of how many thousands that are there? Those are pretty good odds. I face greater odds of death driving to work each day.

I would go. (1)

greywar (640908) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469491)

Definately. Give me a good life insurance policy, and good pay. in the end my family is OK either way. And for me...thats the bottom line. Right now-what if I get sick? my family would be destitute, what good would I be? A good insurance policy and good pay would guarentee my family a income. Yeah it would be nice for em to be around, but really....its all about the money.

Blood Money (4, Insightful)

sakusha (441986) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469493)

Please consider the moral issues that derive from making money off a war and its reconstruction. Do you want to be part of the military-industrial complex, to join the likes of Haliburton or Kellog, Brown & Root? Do you want to be a war profiteer?

Re:Blood Money (1)

el-spectre (668104) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469610)

Lesse... perhaps if (as is likely) the industries involved are basic infrastructure... sounds very moral.

Recent Episode of Thsi American Life (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469494)

I'd recommend you listen to the 06/06/2004 episode of This American Life which devotes an entire hour to stories of civilian contractors and mercs in Iraq. I believe it would answer your questions and you should be able to download it for free from http://www.thislife.org/

depends on the package (free granades, AKs...) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469495)

if the position comes with an adequate arsenal,
i'd go for it (the only problem with military i have is that they own your ass, so a contract is never as long as you thought)

BTW - yes, i am a geek, and yes I am a killer ;)

Depends upon the security arrangements (3, Interesting)

Stalke (20083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469496)

First let me state that I personally have no first hand experience in a situation like this, except that when I was a kid growing up my father was a similar contractor and, since this was the seventies, my family was dragged along as well. That never happens anymore. But I was in Iraq in 1979 before the Iran-Iraq war and remember leaving just before the war broke out. Right now my father is in a similar situation about a job in Indonesia where the company is currently facing people leaving (ironically I was born at that same jobsite).

Okay. It depends upon the security arrangements. First of all working in a second or third world country is very cool. There's nothing like the culture shock while at the same time being an expert compared to most people around you. Second, there is a big difference between having to work outside a secure compound and working inside the compound. If your inside the compound, changes are you'll spend most of your time there is a pretty secure environment and the only time you'll leave is to go on vacation to Dubai or someplace like that and have a significantly better chance at meeting some rich heiress that if you worked in the states.

One the other hand, if you're working outside a secure compound (like for example as a civil or petrolium engineer), make sure your paid well. While you'll still be pretty secure, you never know what'll happen. That being said, when they say that contractors are being targetting, they really are talking about security contractors who are ex navy seal types.

Up to you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469498)

Being a civilian contractor, I know several civilian government personell who have gone to Iraq for 2 weeks or so to do a specific job. From their reports, it isn't too terrible, as long as you say within the fortified military establishments that are designated for civilian contractors. The two Americans that have been kidnapped have been outside those areas for extended periods of time.

In the end, it's all up to you and what you think you are accomplishing. My personal choice is to not do it, but ultimately it is your choice.

Go to the Balkans (5, Informative)

karniv0re (746499) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469503)

I recently got back from Kosovo (though I was there with the Army, not a contractor unfortunately). It's safe enough to hang out in town during the days, and the pay is still pretty good. It was rumored that some Brown & Root employees were making $80k for sitting in a watch tower. I'm sure IT guys would bank better than that.

As far as the Middle East, I think you could remain pretty safe if you just kept to yourself and didn't do too much playing around outside of the base.

On a related note, I would like to see a comparison of the daily murder rate in Iraq compared to the daily murder rate for an inner-city such as, oh, let's say Detroit. Granted, beheading is a bit worse than a drive-by, but it's not like it's an every-day thing.

Are other people's experiences that relevant? (4, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469512)

It's your life. If you feel comfortable about being in a situation where your chances of losing your life increase dramatically, and if you think that you're being adequately compensated for the risks that you're taking, then go ahead and take the assignment.

But if possibly becoming a target, or even being the unfortunate victim of a friendly fire incident, makes your stomach churn then don't do it.

These are warzones that you're talking about. Don't step into one because someone else says that they'd do it, step into one because you know that you're comfortable doing it. You only have one life, so don't lead it according to how someone else would lead their's.

Bottom line: is the job worth potentially dying for? Only you can answer that for yourself.

Do not go at any cost (1)

cnctvfs (788458) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469528)

The worst in America are better than the best in Iraq. Don't risk it. Besides, do you think the payoff is that huge? They just want their desert minions running around. No more, no less.

Telecommute! (1)

Anonymous Writer (746272) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469532)

If work can be so easily ousourced to other countries, then have those jobs your looking at 'outsourced' to you, without you having to be there physically.

a note from a woman... (1)

MariaK (751690) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469582)

If you have a wife/children, don't do it. No matter what happened to you - even if you came back after a few months with a great tan and a fat wallet - your time there would be hell for them. If you're on your own, then you'll have to decide for yourself whether you want to risk it.

Darwin Award (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469605)

I don't mean to be negative man, but if you're stupid enough to even consider going over there, then maybe you should go. You would be doing us all a favor by removing youself from the gene pool.

On the whole I'm a big chicken (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469607)

Nonetheless, there have been times in my life when I've risked all. Sometimes the pay was good, sometimes I was the one doing the paying.

You see, I did them because I wanted to, not for the money. The thing itself scratched my itch.

So there it is. If you got an email and instantly thought to yourself, "Hot Goddam Puppies! I'm going to Afghanistan. Martha, oil my AK-47. "Old Betsy" has got some work to do," well, what are you doing here asking questions for? You know you want to go. Take whatever deal they give you. Have fun. Keep your head down and wear a cup.

That doesn't appear to be you. You want to know if it might be worth the money, to which I have just one question of my own:

Are you frickin' NUTS???

KFG

I'm from the Private Sector, and I'm here to help (5, Informative)

pancake_lover (310091) | more than 9 years ago | (#9469620)

This American Life (on NPR) ran a pretty good documentary on this subject a few weeks back. It's available in Realaudio format on the web. It's an hour long though. The archive page is Here [thislife.org]. Or go to the audio directly [thislife.org].

Are you a Republican? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9469631)

If so, I definitely think you should go for it...
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