Next Post: Kabul, Afghanistan

afghanistan map, kabul afghanistan, foreign service usaidSource: CIA World FactbookWe* are going to Kabul, Afghanistan for our next post. I include an asterisk when I say “we” because AEFMs/MOHs (Adult Eligible Family Members/Members of Household, aka spouses and same-sex domestic partners) may only accompany their sponsoring employees to post if they obtain a job.I debated whether or not to even write about bidding (I didn’t), receiving our assignment, applying for jobs, etc. until everything was finalized. But when is everything finalized? If/when I receive a job offer? When travel orders are in hand? When we (/Kail) get on a plane headed to Kabul?So much is out of our control: Even when we feel confident in our plans, secure in our jobs and settled into our homes, things happen. Governments shut down. Posts are evacuated. Visas get delayed.I decided (with Kail’s consent) that writing about receiving our assignment would not only be OK — it would be helpful in dealing with questions and anxieties and yes, even a little bit of excitement (hello, R&Rs). After all, this is part of life in the Foreign Service.We decided to bid Kabul as our next post for a number of reasons. The USAID bidding process is different than that of the State Department. For one, we only bid for 3-8 posts, whereas State bids for like a million. And by a million I mean 16. Or something like that. Of our bids, one must be a Critical Priority Country, or CPC (similar but not identical to State’s PSPs, or Priority Staffing Posts).Aside from Kail’s professional reasons related directly to the work itself, as a family it makes sense to do a CPC tour now, while we are still a family of two. Many officers do CPC/PSP tours as unaccompanied tours, where their spouses and families either head back to the States or “safe haven” at their current overseas post. We really do not want to be separated, even if it’s just for a year.And, given that our post-Afghanistan tour will be four years, the fact that officers coming out of CPCs get priority bidding is a huge plus (meaning we would get to submit our bids and receive our onward assignment before anyone else). Four years is a long time to live somewhere — it better be somewhere good!There are other benefits to a CPC post too: namely, R&R trips to cool places and danger pay. So we’re going. To Afghanistan. Hopefully together.Job applications have been submitted. Now we just wait and see — and do our best to enjoy our final year in El Salvador while simultaneously trying to make plans for an as-yet uncertain future.Are you bidding? Where are you going for your next tour?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

26 thoughts on “Next Post: Kabul, Afghanistan

  1. Oh, wow! And I just saw you at the cafeteria, but did not have a chance to congratulate you in person. You guys are brave! We are going to South Korea next, probably around this coming March or so.

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    1. Thanks, Sveta! It’s funny, the reaction we’ve been getting from people is “Congratulations … ?” I didn’t know you are leaving so soon! But south Korea sounds amazing. In fact, I have been talking to Sylvia about visiting her on an R&R trip so maybe I will see you there. 🙂

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  2. It’s a smart strategy for sure though I’m sure that doesn’t make the anxiety any easier! I have a USAID EFM friend who just did a year in Islamabad with his partner. He was able to really make the most of it and said the year flew by fast.

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    1. Yeah, even though we talked about it and deliberated and chose it, it still freaks me out a little! But I think the professional experience — even as an EFM — will be really interesting and valuable, wherever life takes us in the future. And yeah, a year is doable.

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  3. Natasha, I think that is a good strategy going now that you are a family of 2. Alonso has been in Iraq for only 6 weeks while I am here in San Diego with Gianna (14months) and 6 months pregnant. Being separated has been harder than I ever expected. Rough. Sad at times. Stay together if possible. All my best. Oh, we got out onward assignment! I will email you privately because I don’t want to jinx it before we get panaled. We are so thrilled and the gamble was worth it!

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    1. Patty! I’m excited to hear where you’re going. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for you guys — I get sad even seeing your FB updates with screenshots of your Skype calls with Alonso. In some ways I thought it might be easier to do an unaccompanied tour with a family because then at least you (the EFM) aren’t alone/have the kids as a distraction, but then there are probably a million parenting-related things that are so much harder to do on your own. Not to mention still missing your spouse — I was depressed when Kail went away for training for a month!Stay strong and keep rockin it, going on runs at six months pregnant with a toddler in tow! 🙂

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  4. Totally makes sense. Truth be told I think it would be super interesting and rewarding to serve somewhere like Kabul, but since I already have kiddos it’s a no go for our family. Assuming you can get a job too I think it’ll be a great experience. And even if not, it’s just a year (with tons of R&Rs), and better to be separated now than later.

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  5. Very exciting! I’m not in the FS but have considered it (and still am) so can’t wait to follow your next post — not many bloggers writing about Afghanistan!

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  6. We are waiting to hear where we are going… the US might be in the stars for us…. I don’t even want to start daydreaming of whole foods and happy hour until it’s official. This is a great move for you guys! Blessings on this next step!

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    1. How exciting! I have some friends here who are bidding DC. I’m slightly jealous about all the good restaurants and grocery shopping (not to mention four seasons) but we want to spend a little more time abroad before heading stateside again. Good luck!

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  7. I hope you make it there together, too. My husband and I have talked about being in a danger post, too and we listed pretty much all the same pros/cons as you did. Funny, because now we are also headed to a danger post, that I recently wrote about. I look forward to reading about your adventures in Kabul!

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