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The LOGCAP 4 contractors have now received what is called a Notice To Proceed and there is a mass hiring happening now — this will only grow in momentum, matching the surge of troops going into Afghanistan — you need to be in on it.
Have You Applied in the Past, Without Success?Perhaps you’ve already applied to some of the LOGCAP 4 contractors like Fluor, KBR, DynCorp and ITT and wondered why you never heard anything from them.
The reason is that you first have to show them what they want to see and tell them what they want to hear, so that later you can tell them ‘Show me the MONEY!’
Keep in mind though, that this kind of work is not for everybody!
Some Advice About Living ConditionsThe living conditions can be rough. You can be living in tents shared by as many 140 of your closest new friends, or it can be in what is referred to as the “B Huts”, which are basically nothing more than un-insulated shacks, with plywood walls and a corrugated tin roof with a small heat pump at each end.
This means that in the heat of the summer it’s never quite cool enough, and in the winter it’s nowhere near warm enough. The day time highs — even at Bagram (which sits about 4,900 feet above sea level), will hit 110° during summer, and in the winter it gets colder than a well digger's... well, as I was saying — it gets cold. You’ll find that Afghanistan is a land of extremes and rugged beauty. It’s like Phoenix summers and Denver winters.
In fact, it got so cold there during the winter of ’06-’07, that you could put a bottle of water on the floor and it would be frozen by the next morning. It got below zero every single night during the month of January ’07. We were desperate to try to stay warm, as due to safety regulations, space heaters are not allowed.
Things Can Get Cold in the Winter.This meant that you’d be wearing thermal underwear, a long-sleeve flannel shirt, 1 or 2 pair of sweat pants, wool socks and a thermal knit cap to try and get some sleep at night. I got creative, and fashioned a frame made out of some left-over PVC pipe I found, along with two king-sized electric blankets, forming a cocoon I could crawl into at night.
With the heavy duty blankets I acquired, which I laid on the floor and nailed up on all the walls of my space, plus the vaporizer I used, I actually managed to keep the temperature above freezing in my little corner of the world when winter came around again in ‘08. Speaking of corners — when you get over there, try and snag a corner space if you can, as they always have a few more precious inches of interior space (for some reason).
A side benefit of lining my space with blankets was that it helped cut-down on some of the noise from the aircraft, which always seem to be taking-off and landing at every hour of the day and night. F-16’s, C-141’s, C-130’s, Blackhawks, Hueys, various and sundry manner of multiple jet engine and propeller driven aircraft are just a part of life there.
And Things Can Get Plenty Hot in the Summer.Of course in the summer, you don’t want anything lining the walls of your hooch. You want as much ventilation as you can get. (Hooch is what they call the place you live, a term that got its start during the Vietnam war era). Only problem, is that gives the creepy-crawlies more of a chance to come into your hooch.
By creepy-crawlies, I'm mainly talking aobut camel spiders. They’re called camel spiders because they nest on the under-belly of camels. Camel spiders don’t get as big in Afghanistan as they do in Iraq, though. The biggest ones I’ve ever seen in Afghanistan were only about the size of a saucer. But the ones in Iraq get so big they tell me the locals catch them and boil the legs, which can get as big as Alaskan King Crabs. They say it tastes like chicken.
And Now, A Word About Giant Spiders.Anyway, the camel spider is a sneaky arachnid. If one gets on you while you’re sleeping you won’t even know it. They’ll spray some sort of juice on you that numbs the skin before they sink their fangs into you. But don’t worry. They say it doesn’t hurt. In fact, you’ll never feel a thing. It’s only the next day when you look in a mirror that you’ll realize one has been on you by the dark circle(s) on your skin.
That’s because the enzyme they pump into you while they’re sucking your fluids out helps to break down the surrounding flesh, making it easier for them to drink you. If it continues unabated, they say it’ll rot the flesh all the way to the bone. Yum.
You’ll see locals with the scars on their arms and face. But the camel spiders aren’t really the ones you have to worry about the most. There’s another spider in that part of the world, which the locals say that if you’re bitten by it and you survive the first 24 hours, you’ll be okay. They look more like a giant beetle with ferocious pincers than a spider, though.
Care For Snakes?That’s enough about spiders. I hate spiders. Instead, let’s talk about the snakes in that part of the world. There's a variety of pit viper so deadly, they say that if a medic were standing right beside you with a shot of anti-venom and immediately injected you with it after being bitten, you’d only stand a 50/50 chance of surviving. Any other amount of time goes by and you can basically bend over and well, you know how the rest of the saying goes.
Personal Space, Floods, and Dirt!Unlike the crowded conditions of tents, you’ll share B-huts with only 7 to 9 of your closest new friends, but look on the bright side. The rain sounds great falling on the tin roof. But that’s only at the beginning of rainy season. After it’s been raining non-stop for 24 hours or so — if you’re not careful — you’ll step out of your hooch and into water half way up to your knees. Oops.
I’ve seen it flood so bad, plastic out-houses that weren’t tied down would be floating around like fishing bobbers.
One consolation about the rainy season and the winter though, is that dirt isn’t constantly settling onto your bed. It gives a new meaning to the term dirt-nap, and during the summer you’re continually having to shake out your sheets if you don’t want to wake up dirtier than you were before you laid down. That’s because we have something here called the “120 Days of Wind”, where the wind blows like the Santa-Anna winds everyday and night for 4 months straight.
Most B huts I’ve seen recently at least have a personal space of 4 walls and a door you can put a padlock on. Back in the day, we strung rope inside and hung rugs and blankets up to give us some sort of a sense of semi-privacy. If you’re in a B-hut, depending on how well the carpenters laid it out, you’ll have as much as a whopping 7’x 9’ space to put all your worldly possessions in. If you run out of horizontal space, you go vertical. You wouldn’t believe how high you can stack stuff when you have to.
The websites for the LOGCAP 4 contractors refer to it as ‘austere’ living conditions.(That’s a fancy French word that means rough and tough)There’s no indoor plumbing in B-huts, so if you need to use the facilities in the middle of the night when there’s 2 feet of snow and ice piled up on the ground, you’ll trudge through the elements to get there. During winter if you want to take a hot shower in the morning, make sure you’re there no later than 0430 (that’s 4:30 a.m. for you civilian types), otherwise you’re in for what I will call a ‘chilling experience’, if you know what I mean.
You don’t want to have happen to you what happened to a buddy of mine that went to the toilets with just a pair of flip-flops, and got stung by a scorpion one summer night.If you’re normally a light sleeper, there’s going to be a slight adjustment period, where you get to the point of being so utterly exhausted, you will eventually just pass out. Then you’ll sleep. You’ll sleep in spite of your noisy neighbors stomping up and down the hallway, letting the door slam shut, playing their XBOX's, blasting their 42-inch wide screen TVs, interfaced with their 5-speaker home stereo system — oh, plus those jets roaring overhead all at the same time.
These Living Conditions Are Not Easy.Countless numbers of people have come onto these LOGCAP defense projects for the money, but the money wasn’t enough for them to put-up with the living conditions. And the work hours you ask? That’s going to be at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week with occasional time off for good behavior. Kidding! There is no time off. Kidding again!
With some companies, there are normal holidays like 4th of July, Christmas, New Years, Labor Day, Memorial Day, etc. available and you’ll get paid for 8 hours if you choose to take them, plus there are 1 or 2 local holidays observed by the host country that you’re working in that can be taken off as well.
Oh, and did I mention you’ll be working in a WAR ZONE? Yeah. Mortars, rockets, and something that’s always been hard for me to get my mind around, small arms fire. Can anybody tell me what the heck is supposed to be so small about stray rounds from an AK-47 falling from the sky because letting go with a clip up into the air is the way they celebrate everything in this part of the world from weddings, to anniversaries, to the birth of a new goat?
It's A Strength to Know Your Limitations.To put it mildly, this job is not for the faint of heart. You have to have your mind right before you ever come here. You have to be mentally prepared for the living and working conditions that you think you’re willing to put up with, all for a paycheck that’s bigger than most people have ever seen in their entire life.
Once you get on the job (it’s called ‘boots on ground’) one of the longest periods you’ll ever experience is the time before your very first R&R. Especially if you’ve been working some 9 to 5 back in the states, home every night, going where you want, when you want, with whomever you want. I tell people the best way they can help the time go by is to get into the work and stay busy.
But after you get that first R&R under your belt, it gets a little easier. I also tell people that once you get the first year under your belt, it’s not so bad. And depending on your situation, you may wind-up becoming a seasoned veteran at this kind of work — like myself — and end up not wanting to do anything else.
It could be the toughest job you’ll ever love.The money alone won’t keep you, which is why it is so important that you have specific goals and objectives in mind before you ever set foot on that plane. If your goal is to do a year, good — do that year, and then reassess where you’re at and where you want to be. And then if you think you’re up to it, go another year.
It is a highly contingent, fluid and dynamic environment in which you will live and work with no one day ever being the same.
Why I Don't Push the Hard Sell On You.The reason you haven’t seen anything here urging you to ‘buy my service now!', or any other hard sell tactics, is because you need to have all the facts about what you think you want to do, before making an informed decision. You deserve to be treated with respect, and I respect your intelligence.
You’ll find sites on the internet touting themselves as placement agencies, employment services and the like, and they’ll put up some common knowledge on their site with some lame pictures they downloaded and then try to convince you to part with your hard-earned-cash, and give you absolutely nothing in return but what amounts to a worthless piece of paper.
Some will even go so far as to say that if you register with them they will submit your resume to LOGCAP 4 recruiters, but don’t believe the bull! They are trying to sell you a bill of goods. I’ve looked at some of the sites that come up when you do a search for Logcap 4, Logcap jobs, etc... and here's what I've discovered.
Most of the sites that come up want money for passing off information that anybody could find on the internet if they just looked. A good portion of the rest of them are flat-out bogus, and I’ve even seen one that came back with a mal/spyware warning!
Not exactly the kind of place I’m looking to do business with.
More About the Recruiting Process: What you must know about what LOGCAP 4 employers really wantThe LOGCAP recruiting process is two-sided, with the LOGCAP 4 contractor and the candidate having completely different needs. You probably know what your needs are, but do you know what LOGCAP 4 contractors are really looking for when screening potential candidates? The more you know about what LOGCAP 4 contractors want, the better your chances of surviving the recruiting process.
Every new hire is a gamble and you must know how to deal with the following fact:To a LOGCAP 4 employer, you are a high-cost, high-risk investment. Once the decision has been made to extend a job offer — providing, of course, that you pass a rigorous background check, medical screening and everything else that goes on during orientation — it’s going to cost the LOGCAP 4 company about $25,000 or more to get you mobilized.
Twenty five thousand dollars. That’s not chump change.
As a LOGCAP job candidate, you must prove to them that you offer the potential for a strong Return on Investment.
LOGCAP 4 Only Hire People Who They Know Will Stick With It.LOGCAP 4 contractors simply can’t afford to hire job candidates who don’t have the potential to work out. They want solid, reliable employees who bring their best to the workplace every day — especially on a LOGCAP project. They value employees who are clear communicators, self-motivated, team players, hard working and honest.
One of the ways your honesty is measured is by taking a test during orientation called a WABI test. That stands for Work Assessment Behavioral Inventory. In this test, you will be asked a series of questions which will indicate whether you can follow orders, work as a team member, keep your emotions in check and whether you’re honest or not. And they’ll try to trip you up by asking the same questions in a different way to see if you give conflicting answers. I’ll talk about the WABI test more in-depth once you’ve decided this is something you really want to do.
NOBODY Can Make You A Crazy Guarantee Online.There are so-called ‘employment agencies’ skulking about on the web, promoting themselves as somehow being able to get you a LOGCAP 4 job, that don’t have any in-roads what-so-ever with any of the LOGCAP 4 recruiters, that don’t work in cooperation with any LOGCAP 4 recruiters, that aren’t affiliated with any of the LOGCAP 4 recruiters, and don’t have any influence of any kind with the people making the decisions on who gets hired and who doesn’t. NOBODY can guarantee you that. And I'll be the first to tell you that I can't guarantee you anything like that, either.
The One True Thing I Do Guarantee.The one and only thing I do guarantee you is that when a LOGCAP 4 recruiter gets stacks of applications on their desk, they first separate them into 2 piles — the first pile is for applications that meet the minimum requirements and are a definite maybe — a big maybe. The second pile immediately goes into ‘file 13’ (if you know what I mean.) What you have to do, is give yourself a fighting chance of your application winding up in the first pile. That’s the first cut.
Then the LOGCAP recruiter is going to start looking at applications much more in-depth, and the second cut will involve applying weighted pre-screening criteria to each and every potential job candidate. Think about it this way: without a LOGCAP 4 resume, you’re like the kid on the playground with lice — the one that none of the other kids want to play with. What we have to do is shave your head and get you back on the monkey bars! (A shameless riff from a cool movie).
Still Interested?If you're still interested, think you've got the right stuff and I haven't scared you out of it yet, read on! I have extensive advice on several other pages:
My Intro to Defense Contracting
Some useful Defense Job Tips
and my famous 'Free Advice'.