Afghan Mission: Implausible

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Bored sitting around your desk? Want some action for a change? Well, the Agency for International Development has just the gig for you: AID is seeking a “senior press liaison” for its Afghanistan outpost to “ensure the production of clear, powerful news advisories and releases.” You’ll be expected to “tell the USAID story eloquently and catch the attention of reporters, editors and producers.”

But it won’t be a cakewalk. The winning candidate apparently is expected to, single-handedly, turn around the grim news coverage that has been increasingly coming from Kabul and vicinity:

…the Senior Press Liaison will scan Afghan and international coverage, preparing immediate responses to inaccurate or incomplete stories and editorials, and producing effective stories and hard-hitting commentary, to fill gaps in news coverage.

(“Well, we didn’t actually burn the Korans. They were hardly scorched. More like singed, actually. And here’s a tip you might want to check out: how did those burned holy books get outside Bagram, anyway, seeing as Afghan locals are supposed to be screened for such items on their way home?”)

Granted, that problem falls more into the military’s lap than AID’s, but the goal is the same.

The winning candidate – ideally a former journalist with experience in country – “must have demonstrated ability to work well in changing and often-difficult conditions and display cultural awareness and sensitivity,” the solicitation adds. “He or she also will train technical officers and mission leadership in dealing with reporters, delivering lectures and conducting `murder boards,’ rigorous mock interviews designed to prepare subjects to deal with aggressive reporters.”

Alas. It turns out there is a fair amount of desk work, even in a war zone:

Physical Demands and Work Environment: Work in the office is mostly sedentary but travel to program activity implementation sites outside of Kabul requires U.S. Government Regional Security Officer (RSO) approval, travel in fully armored vehicles and close coordination with the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate security officers, DoD, and ISAF as relevant. PRT sites are in remote areas of Afghanistan in rugged terrain that requires good physical condition to conduct site assessments.

While the offer apparently doesn’t list a salary, the announcement notes that “the Mission has 35% Post Differential allowance and 35% Danger Pay.”

Interested? Check out the particulars and send your CV to Sameer Lodeen at