Okay, so I’ve left DynCorp where I had a pretty traditional role as an accountant and analyst. I was processing the hell out of data and stuff, so that was cool, but now I’m working with a different company, with a different job description and I thought that it might be fun to describe what I get to do over here.
But first of all, what a crazy inversion of circumstances it’s been – to move to Kandahar where the rocket attacks sometimes come every day – and to have a huge complex attack develop in the city I just left. I mentioned on Facebook that it was the first time I’d heard anyone say, “I’m glad you’re in Kandahar!”
In general though, I’m working out of three offices, one here in Kandahar, another in Kabul and another in Lashkar Gah, a city in Helmund province. All locations are very safe and our security personnel are crack, so while I’m alert, I’m not worried.
And in short, my job description is to fix the planet, if, by the planet, I mean all the data collection systems of the program. But more on that – it’s worthwhile to talk about Chemonics and what my new company does for a living.
My brother Steve pointed out that the companies I’ve worked for so far over here all seem to have names that are somewhat ominous. Ever wonder who starts up and works for the huge companies that support the super-criminals that James Bond fights against? Yeah, that’s us. DynCorp, Chemonics – the “International” or “Inc.” that follows these names should also be followed by “Evil Organization.” It doesn’t help that my boss – the guy running things over here – is named “Francois de la Roche,” his title is “Chief of Party” (COP) and he has a hairless cat in the crook of his elbow all the time. I made that last part up as a joke, but he does have a huge cigar in his mouth all the time (and I do mean all the time) so that could really suffice as a Bond-Villain mannerism, right? It’s a shame to think of him being killed by laser-sharks in the near future. I’m going to tell him to just kill the secret agent when he has a chance, but you know these guys, they never listen – too busy trying to explain every detail of their evil plan.
Despite the frightening name, Chemonics is on a mission that I would describe as super-sweet. While DynCorp was training police officers, Chemonics is working a project called ASI – Afghanistan Stabilization Initiative. The goals of the mission are short term and finite, but designed to build confidence in the government and authorities of Afghanistan. We identify projects that local governments would like to do, but don’t have the money. We work out all the details of the project and do most of the work, then let the government take all of the credit. It’s a sweet deal because the projects are so practical. We help to rebuild and reinforce a school damaged by vandalism. We build water systems and canals. We help develop business sectors with people that would like to start chicken farms, bee hives, and the like.
So that is cool, right? I think so. I like the idea of working directly with the people, and I really hope that the goal of the project is being accomplished – that the people just see stuff getting done by the government. It could be a good step in helping the people to reject insurgents and embrace peace. Who knows? I think that if we let Francois loose with a few death rays, he could straighten the whole thing out a lot quicker, but I’m not running the evil empire, am I?
My role here is to just improve data systems, which sounds boring, but it makes me into a hero, so that is cool. When Bond storms the compound, I’ll be one that the others will protect, because only I know the passwords to the databases. I like the idea. The only downside is that it sets me up as the guy who is supposed to be able to fix anything, and for those of you that improve processes, you know that sometimes, you choose the right way to do it, and sometimes you choose the way that doesn’t work out. I’m hoping I make the right decisions.
The security situation is much different here, and I’m still feeling out the idea of posting pictures and descriptions of my time here to a blog, so hopefully there will be more to come.