For the 22nd Engineer Clearance Company, searching for improvised explosive devices was only half the battle. The Taliban was constantly lurking in the shadows.

“They have the advantage,” said Sgt. Edwin Roman. “They know the terrain better than us, and they can hide.”

As the convoy traveled along the barren terrain, a voice chattered from the radio. “Keep scanning.”

At any time, the enemy can pounce. Soldiers must stay alert with their heads on a swivel.

“They don`t wear uniforms,” said Sfc. Kelly Simco. “I’m sure we drive by the insurgents everyday when we are out on our patrols. You got some guys that just look at you funny, and guys that look up and down our vehicles, and just makes you think, you know. Is that our enemy?”

The Taliban are a determined enemy. They learned to set up effective ambushes against U.S. soldiers.

“We are a big sitting target,” said Sgt. Timothy Hallberg, referring to the size of the vehicles and the amount of equipment the 22nd Engineer Clearance Company carries. “Our trucks are huge. We have a lot of firepower. We pack a punch, but we have to wait for them to engage us.”

Waiting, as every soldier and embedded reporter comes to understand, is an unappreciated challenge during war. “You just kind of wait for them to engage,” said Sgt. Hallberg. “You just kind of wait all day until something ‘pops off’ and then you just engage.”

On one route known for attacks, Afghan army soldiers riding in trucks behind us started taking fire.

It was only a matter of time before we became targets.

I heard a voice call out, “RPG.”

A rocket was spotted on the side of the road. It didn`t feel right. Soldiers can smell an ambush. Usually the convoy would dispose of something like a rocket lying on the ground.

“I was like, ‘You know, we can’t stop for this.’ It`s a bad area. It’s in the ‘box of death,’” said Sgt. Hallberg.

The convoy started moving again. Within seconds, the radio came alive.

Soldiers began calling out that their truck was being hit. And then it happened – we are under attack.

Sgt. Hallberg saw a muzzle flash. Then he felt a hit. “It’s really slight, but you can still feel it hit the armor,” Sgt. Hallberg said. “I saw the round go off, and they just starting spraying us.”

I could hear bullets hitting our truck. Our gunner returned fire. The chaos of the battle mirrored the emotions I felt inside. I wasn’t alone.

“It’s like funneling 12 cokes at once,” said Pfc. Justin Manchester. “All the caffeine just kicks in at once. Your legs shake sometimes. Your hands shake. You zone out. You focus more which is kind of weird. But you focus in on one thing. Your senses just come a lot more developed than they normally are.”

More rounds hit the vehicle.

“Adrenaline is going like crazy,” said Sgt. Edwin Roman. “Sometimes you can hear pings from the bullets hitting the truck.