US battle flag no longer flying in Iraq

After nearly nine years of war, tens of thousands of casualties—including 4,500 dead—and more than $800 billion spent, the U.S. military on Thursday formally ended its mission in Iraq and prepared to leave the country. For years, commanders in Iraq have handed off to their successors the top call sign, Lion 6, along with the […]

Julian E. Barnes and Nathan Hodge report for The Wall Street Journal:

After nearly nine years of war, tens of thousands of casualties—including 4,500 dead—and more than $800 billion spent, the U.S. military on Thursday formally ended its mission in Iraq and prepared to leave the country.

For years, commanders in Iraq have handed off to their successors the top call sign, Lion 6, along with the American battle flag adorned with a Mesopotamian sphinx. But on Thursday, in a tradition-drenched ceremony with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta looking on, the current Lion 6, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, pulled down the colors and cased them for a return to the U.S.