By Barbara Starr reporting from Baghdad
We are traveling with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.
We landed in Baghdad airport about four hours before the ceremony that would mark the end of nearly nine years of war.
It's a cold dusty morning. What is so striking is the silence. The U.S. military is down to just a few thousand troops in Iraq and maybe just a few hundred in Baghdad.
We are led across a now empty basketball court, past an empty gym and deserted chapel-all once elements of home away from home for the thousands who served here.
The silence is overwhelming, people speak almost in whispers.
But some things haven't changed. The ceremony is in a small courtyard surrounded by blast walls. Before the formal ceremony starts, everyone is told which bunker to go to if we take indirect fire.