"Camp Echo's dusty motorpools are empty, its private contract caterers have long gone home and murals depicting the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York's twin towers have been painted over.
One of the last seven U.S. military bases in Iraq, Echo is in rapid handover to Iraqi hands as American soldiers there pack up and complete their final task - protecting the last few departing troops heading home south across the Kuwaiti border.
Nearly nine years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, the U.S. mission in Iraq is fast winding down with only 13,000 troops left in the country. Hundreds are departing each day until the end of 2011.
Hundreds of convoys of military vehicles and civilian trucks have gone south into Kuwait since President Barack Obama last month said troops would leave as scheduled, effectively ending the large-scale U.S. military presence on Iraqi soil.
"It's time. The president and everyone is saying it's time. We did as much as we can," U.S. Army Sergeant Fred Fox said at Echo in Diwaniya, 150 km (95 miles) south of Baghdad.
"It's time for us to go home and let them take care of their own," he said.
Soldiers left on Camp Echo, like other bases in Iraq, are still patrolling to protect themselves, the highway south and the base even as they pack up and hand over equipment from vehicles to air conditioners to the Iraqi armed forces.
On Echo, rows of white SUVs, construction vehicles and jeeps sit parked waiting for Iraqi officials to check U.S. inventories. U.S. troops are leaving behind anything not cost-effective to ship elsewhere, like concrete blast walls. (...)"