“SPECIAL FORCES COMBAT OUTPOST PIRELLI” (by Alex Quade) --- When the U.S. military officially departed Iraq due to the Status of Forces Agreement deadline, a little known part of the handover included leaving behind secret Special Forces' “Team houses” — or “safe houses” — hidden around the country. One was built by Green Beret Staff Sergeant Rob Pirelli and his Operational Detachment Alpha -072, or “A-Team.” Pirelli, of the Army's 10th Special Forces Group, built the combat outpost in a remote part of Diyala Province, near the Iranian border, in 2007. As a lone reporter, I was there at the combat outpost's beginning stages, then spent 2-years covering these same, secretive Special Forces “A-Teams” on multiple deployments. During one combat mission, Green Beret Staff Sgt. Pirelli was killed in action during an ambush. His heroism saved his 12-Special Forces teammates, and the Iraqis his unit was advising. As a reporter, I made the commitment to follow Pirelli's “A-Team” and his “Gold Star Family” for 5-years after he was killed; I also went back to Combat Outpost Pirelli repeatedly over the years. My 40-page, two-part, special online article (with photos and video), covered two different investigative, journalistic themes. First: over time, how Pirelli's family and teammates found ways (both successful and unsuccessful) to deal with the loss; as well as an inside look at how Special Forces command/headquarters handle a soldier killed in action. Second: using the Combat Outpost as a metaphorical barometer, I documented the change in the Special Forces' mission in that part of Iraq, as well as the U.S. military's role, and the progress or regress into violence, over 5-years.