by FOX News Radio's Courtney Kealy
Everything feels familiar and yet remains slightly different.
The dust, the helicopters, the plywood operations base.
Soldiers I have met before on other embeds.
Except I'm not in Iraq.
Today marks the day that US forces have officially been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviets.
I've always said if the story is big enough there is time to get there but its taken me ten years to get to Afghanistan for the first time, landing five days before this inauspicious occasion.
Back home the big stories of the week have been Unwelcome Airport Pat Downs and Black Friday Shopping Sales.
Afghanistan is no longer the top story as the conflict here drags on.
In 2001, as a struggling freelancer I stayed behind and didn't head to cover the invasion with the press corps. Based in Beirut, bereft at the leveling the Twin Towers in my hometown and the subsequent trauma my family and friends were enduring, I wasn't interested in heading here and upsetting them more.
Today, I still filter what I tell them.
Ten years on, US troops topping out at 100,000 are still trying to stamp out insurgencies but now they have so many other names; the Haqqani network, Laskar E Taiba, The Afghan Taliban, The Pakistani Taliban and others find safe haven just across the border from Paktika Province -where I am embedded with the troops from the 101st Airborne - in North Waziristan in Pakistan.
I was scheduled to go to a Afghan police graduation ceremony a few miles away but its been cancelled after two bombers disguised as Afghan policemen just blew up the barracks.
So I filed and offered live radio spots instead.
Al Qaeda in Iraq targeted Iraqi police recruits just like this.
Al Shebab targets African Union forces like this in Somalia.
And so on...
There have been so many bombings like this in so many countries I have worked in during the last decade that it feels numbingly familiar and not unusual in the least.
As General Campbell, the 101st Airborne's Commander, told me just a few days ago "we live in dangerous times probably the most dangerous of our lifetime."
Thanksgiving was a good day. I choppered with the officers from the Fourth Brigade Combat Team along the Pakistani border to visit soldiers at seven remote outposts here.
As a gunner let rip a test round on the first leg of the trip, I filed a radio piece in the Blackhawk. Then he tossed me one of the spent rounds. I caught it and pocketed it, thinking to myself, "any talisman will do."
Major General John Campbell (Commander of the 101st Airborne) awards a wounded soldier the Purple Heart at the Craig Health Joint Theater Hospital, at Bagram Air Field, one of the busiest trauma centers in the world. The General visits every evening when necessary to award Purple Hearts to his soldiers wounded in combat.