The ceramic plates, classified as "level four" body armor, provide the highest level of protection, even withstanding rounds designed to pierce armor, according to Tony Tanner, president of Clearwater, Fla.-based Rent-A-Vest, who provided me with my flak jacket. Combined, the vest and plates weigh in at just under 25 pounds, but feel much heavier after you've been carrying them round for a while. Another new experience for me is the bewildering lexicon of military jargon and acronyms, from Zulu time (better known as Greenwich Mean Time -- key in a vast logistics operations which spans different days) to NMR (News Media Representative -- that's me) and PAO (the highly patient Public Affairs Officer who is escorting me on this trip). Confusingly, even a runway isn't always referred to as a runway in the Air Force -- it's also known as a "flightline". Check back for more updates from my trip. -- Written by James Rogers in Ramstein.Follow @jamesjrogers >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.