Half an hour before our Tristar lands at Camp Bastion all the lights are turned out. It's midnight and Chris Warner, my cameraman, and I are sitting with a hundred or more soldiers in complete darkness and silence. It's our first taste of what it's like to enter a warzone.
At Bastion, the main base for British and American operations in Afghanistan, everyone carries a gun at all times. As you can imagine, security is paramount and we have an escort for every minute of every day.
The conditions on base are surprisingly comfortable - our tent has ten bunkbeds in it and the noisiest air conditioning system I've ever heard. But we soon learn that turning it off at night is not an option. So the constant hum of the air con mixes with the sporadic flypast of a helicopter and after a few days we sleep through it all.
You'll be pleased to know that the Bastion diet is excellent - a choice of at least 12 menus every mealtime and plenty of fruit and veg. After a day of patrolling in full body armour most of the lads want to stock up on carbs but they are reminded constantly that a balanced diet is essential to keep them healthy.
They say an army marches on its stomach and the British army marches very well. Even the ration packs for those outside of Bastion are pretty good nowadays. We heard horror stories of corned beef hash five days in a row but we had paella - rehydrated with hot water - and a full English if we wanted. Plenty of teabags and cereal bars too.
The two things you see plenty of on any base are HESCO bomb-proof walls and bottles of water. They get through a million litres a month and it's all bottled at Bastion from a couple of boreholes in the Afghan desert. And with temperatures in the 40s everyone carries water at all times.