Editor's note: U.S. Army Capt. Dan Sukman is serving a one-year deployment to Iraq. For previous entries and his bio, see the Soldier's Diary archives.
A lot of people ask, "Where are the good news stories?" or "Where are the success stories?"
Here you go:
Our brigade took another step forward today. We turned over another portion of our AO [area of operation] to the Iraqi army in South Baghdad. It's a small step; it won't make national headlines, but it's steps like these that will eventually have us all on our way out of here.
Each time we turn over territory to the Iraqi army, it really represents the culmination of an enormous amount of hard work, both by our U.S. soldiers and the Iraqi soldiers.
As I discussed previously, this war is a marathon, not a sprint; fighting a counterinsurgency takes time; it measured in inches. We did not turn over the entire city of Baghdad to the Iraqi army, but we are a little closer today.
Most ceremonies like this one are small; representatives from both the Iraqi army and the U.S. Army are present, some words are spoken by each group, along with the translation to either English or Arabic. The speeches are then followed by a pass and review from the soldiers of the Iraqi army taking the battle space.
It all ends with local food and drinks for those who attend. It's not on the scale of the British turning over Hong Kong to the Chinese, but to the soldier on the ground it's no less important.
Today's ceremony was not the first; it certainly won't be the last. Each time they occur, there is certainly reason to celebrate, but other than the transition ceremony, you won't see any more.
No high fives, no champagne drinking through the night, and no cooler of Gatorade poured over the commander's head. What you will see are professional soldiers ready to take on the next mission.