Thor got to Kabul around November 1st, 2007. I emailed him and asked for some color on what the situation would be like. He responded to my specific questions in the following memo-like fashion:
What is the gig?
I am working on a USAID - funded project, doing "capacity development" for the government of Afghanistan. I do the propaganda. But USAID takes all the credit. When 10 Afghans are certified for FreeBalance, I write the press release, but put the name of the USAID press secretary on it.
The current deployment is 11 months, but that is a bookkeeping device to avoid being a long-term/permanent assignment. If everyone likes everyone, it could run several years.
How much are you getting paid?
Gentlemen don't answer such questions, but it is a very decent slice. The most I have ever made. I have opened a mutual fund via TIAA Cref. My plan is to stick most of it in there, and use this as the foundation for my retirement.
What is housing gonna be?
We have a corporate villa, in the heavily patroled part of Kabul where the embassies are. We have armed guards at the villa. We travel in dedicated (but not armored) cars, with shooters.
Our offices are guarded. We are only allowed to eat at certain restaurants, and patronize certain bars, which have -- you guessed it -- armed guards.
Think of my life as a series of moves from Green Zone to Green Zone. There is much less active penetration of greater Kabul than greater Baghdad. But the situation is deteriorating at present.