Editor's note: FOX News Anchor Bill Hemmer is traveling to Iraq. His broadcasts begin Monday, March 20, from Camp Fallujah at 12 p.m. ET, 9 a.m. PT
BAGHDAD, Iraq — As we emerge from the Baghdad International Airport (otherwise known as BIAP in an acronym-crazed military), our transportation rolls up curbside.
What a sight.
It's a 62,000-pound, desert-brown Rhino Runner capable of shuttling more than a dozen people and built to withstand nearly any type of IED (improvised explosive device) the insurgency can muster.
With reinforced steel and ultra-thick shatterproof windows, it's a bunker on wheels. The nickname "coffin" is stenciled on the front grill.
As we drive toward the city center, along what some consider the most dangerous stretch of road in the world, two U.S. Army Humvees with .50-caliber machine guns sandwich our vehicle for security — one in front and the other following 50 yards behind.
As we move under a series of overpasses, an Army gunner rotates like a whiplash. His mounted machine gun points toward the concrete bridges above as our small convoy moves down Route Irish.
On this three-lane highway, all military vehicles straddle the middle lane. The eyes of our driver, a Marine from Mississippi wearing bullet-protecting Kevlar along his entire body, scan the roadside. His concentration, even through conversation, never breaks.
"From the middle lane, I can move right or left if necessary," he says through a thick Cajun drawl. "This way each driver has two options if I encounter an IED."
Inside the lead Humvee, a radar-jamming device has saved countless American lives in the months since it has been developed.
Our military escorts strongly urge our team to refrain from any description of this lifesaving technology. We oblige.
Given the lethal accuracy of insurgent roadside bombs, this defensive weapon might be the most valuable asset in Iraq today.
Later, the "coffin" approaches a checkpoint on the edge of the Green Zone — a sprawling complex on the west bank of the Tigris River where the U.S.-led coalition helps guide the political and military direction in Iraq.
Before passing through the first security gate, the car in front of us pulls out of line and puts on its parking brakes, the engine idling.
"See that," says the Cajun voice again. "That's what concerns me. That car hasn't gotten to the checkpoint."
Inside our vehicle, no one mutters a word. The line moves, but slowly, toward Iraqi guards waiting for the next inspection. For a moment, the thought of following a vehicle loaded with explosives floods the mind.
But only for that fleeting moment.
Nothing happens. Moments later we are in the clear and moving through the checkpoint, seemingly safe and protected.
The paranoia was just that — paranoia.
But paranoia seems pervasive in the environment here. From the moment one enters Iraqi airspace, the constant sense of vulnerability dominates the mind.
Back at the airport, commercial pilots use a technique known as a corkscrew on approach. From 35,000 feet, the Baghdad International Airport stretches out on the flat brown earth below. The pilot then banks the plane in a constant left hand turn.
Instead of making a steady line of descent over a wide area, which increases the possibility of hostile fire from the ground, the pilot can minimize the aircraft's exposure.
The system works. And the unique approach seems the most appropriate way for landing in the Iraqi capital.
Later we will fly out again, but this time departing from the Green Zone. At midnight, we are scheduled to board a Marine CH-46 helicopter on a moonlit night over Anbar Province.
Our destination is Camp Fallujah, and the living heart of the Iraqi insurgency.
Bill Hemmer currently serves as co-anchor of FOX News Channel's (FNC) America's Newsroom (weekdays 9-11AM/ET) and America's News HQ (weekdays 1-2PM/ET). Hemmer joined the network in 2005 and is based in New York. Click here for more information on Bill Hemmer.