An Iraqi soldier takes position at the start of a joint U.S.-Iraq operation in April. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

If you’ve been tracking the news, you know there’s been an uptick in violence in Iraq in recent weeks as leaders there continue debating whether to request an extension of U.S. military operations in the country beyond December. Though the current agreement between the countries is set to expire at year’s end, U.S. officials privately hope that Iraqi leaders will ask for at least some of the roughly 47,000 U.S. troops currently in the country to stay longer.

I volunteered for this assignment (with the blessings of Mrs. Eye, of course) and am honored to be joining the roughly 70 Washington Post reporters, editors, columnists and photographers who’ve reported from Iraq in the last decade. The Post remains one of just a few American newspapers regularly reporting from Iraq, and it’s a distinction we take seriously.

I’ll return to Washington shortly before Labor Day, and in my absence, The Federal Eye will continue under the able stewardship of my federal beat colleagues Joe Davidson, Lisa Rein, Steve Vogel, Eric Yoder, and others, all of whom plan to blog regularly on the news of the day while also providing analysis and features.

You will also see occasional contributions from me because, after all, tens of thousands of federal employees, government contractors, and military service members are working hard everyday in Iraq — and this is a blog about them and the work they do, no matter where they are. If you, your agency or company, or someone you know is serving in Iraq and might have a story worth telling, please let me know.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank you, our readers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, government and unofficial sources, observers, critics, competitors, colleagues and friends for continuing to read and support The Eye. It remains one of The Post’s most popular blogs, and that wouldn’t be possible without you.