Chris Carter, former minister in the previous Labour government, gives a firsthand impression of his new job at the United Nations in Afghanistan.
Day one of my new career as UNDP's latest staff recruit in Kabul had me closeted behind high security walls at the UNDP Country Office in central Kabul getting a security briefing.
At approximately 1.30pm the security briefing went from the theoretical to the real. A team of as many as 10 Afghan Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades somehow penetrated the most secure areas of central Kabul and mounted assaults on the US Embassy and a number other targets including the Afghan National Police Headquarters.
The UNDP office is located very close to the US Embassy compound and we were immediately caught up in a barrage of noise which included sirens, rifle fire, grenade blasts and - most sinister of all - the deep boom of what our security chief said were suicide bombers detonating themselves.
The attack went on all of that day. We were in total security lockdown and had to remain inside our building until 11pm that night.
The most dramatic phase was around 4.30pm when a helicopter gunship from the Afghan National Army launched an attack on the surviving militants holed up in a half-built hotel near the US Embassy.
Tracer bullets, rifle fire, the boom of grenades was suddenly almost drowned out by a huge electrical storm which struck Kabul. Torrential rain, thunder and lightning bolts added to the bedlam of the attacks and counterattacks. Spent bullet casings fell in our compound.
By midday Wednesday the last militants had been cleared.
The attack was probably never going to do much damage to a hardened facility like the US Embassy but I suspect that was not its purpose.
This operation by the Taliban was more of a psychological than a physical one. The Taliban proved again that even the most secure areas of Kabul can be penetrated by well-armed men.
How they got in will be of great concern to the Afghan Government and the NATO military leadership. It was also a personal reminder to me about just how careful I have to be in this new job.