FORT MEADE, Md. (Army News Service, Dec. 2, 2011) -- December's issue of Soldiers magazine features seven stories tied to the transition of U.S. military forces as they exit Iraq.

It's the second issue of Soldiers magazine available only online, as the the hard copy versions of all four service flagship magazines were discontinued in October due to budget issues and an industry trend toward online media.

Carrie McLeroy, Soldiers magazine editor-in-chief, said if Soldiers aren't aware of all the ins and outs of what it takes to leave Iraq after eight years, they should be after reading the comprehensive stories by Army News Service reporter C. Todd Lopez, Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Piper, and Spc. Anthony T. Zane of the 362nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Lopez opens the December issue with an insightful piece on the Office of Security Cooperation and how America will maintain its presence and partnership with Iraq after her Soldiers have gone home. The military equipping and training missions are the two largest functions that will transfer from military to civilian leadership by this month's close.

In "Partners for Peace," Lopez writes of the reconstruction efforts which have resulted in an estimated 70,000 projects at a cost of $58 billion to bring Iraq's infrastructure into the 21st century. Notable projects include electricity and power plants, water treatment projects, bridge construction and transportation systems along with public works projects including schools, hospitals, railroads and airport construction.

In his third story, Lopez delves into the ability of the Iraqis to handle their own security and how the country has made a turn-around and seen IED, sniper and rocket attacks fall to around 400 a month compared to 1,600 monthly attacks back in 2007.

McLeroy said the fourth story, also by Lopez, concerns itself with a responsible transition and coordinated efforts to ensure a successful transfer of property and facilities.

"I think people believe when we leave we just give our gear to the Iraqis, but that's not how it works," she said. "As you'll read in the story, some equipment is repositioned, sent to Kuwait, reset, then sent to Afghanistan; some equipment will come back to the states..."

Tied to the equipment transition, Spc. Anthony T. Zane writes about the movement and processing of Soldiers' equipment and personal belongings across the Iraq and Kuwait borders and the importance of cleanliness inspections to the ecosystem in the U.S. homeland.

In his story on the Iraqi NCO Academy, Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Piper, Operations NCO for Defense Media Activity-Army Production, writes about the academy at Camp Taji. There, Iraqi soldiers arrive with little knowledge, but through an 80-percent hands-on training philosophy, they leave the academy better prepared to lead and train.

Rounding out the December issue, Lopez writes in "Tributes to the fallen come home" about the memorials left to America's fallen -- the names of some of the 4,500 Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen who died in Iraq painted on T-walls, plywood signs and plaques -- that will be sent to the U.S.

See for the complete December issue. Fan Soldiers on Facebook at, or follow @SoldiersMag on Twitter.

Page last updated Fri December 2nd, 2011 at 17:37