In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military relies heavily on helicopters, from tiny Kiowas to Blackhawks to Apaches. One of the granddaddies of them all is the CH-53E, or "Sea Stallion." Designed for moving troops or gear, the Sea Stallions are huge, powerful and sometimes fun to hitch a ride on. CNN's Atia Abawi and cameraman Scott Clotworthy recently took a ride for an inside look at the chopper in Afghanistan.
"Outside the wire" is the phrase used for everything beyond the confines and security of a military base. General Stanley McChrystal’s plan for fighting insurgency in Afghanistan calls for troops to engage with the local population and protect the people. To do this, soldiers must go beyond the wire and climb down from their machines to interact face to face in the hope of gaining the trust of a skeptical population.
An embed with any military can involve practically surrendering to their logistics. Everything from transport to food is supplied. Journalists find the lack of independence tough, but there are very few alternative avenues to cover the story. The aircraft and vehicles in which you are cocooned can be some of the most advanced on the modern battlefield - and at times some of the most uncomfortable. Time on the ground among the local population is often short and occasionally tense.
Much of what you see and film is from inside the machine. See more of the photos
An Afghan boy brightens his bike - and the dusty brown and muted tones of an Afghan market - with colorful plastic flowers while carrying 'nanay khushk' - a piece of long flat bread.