Updated 18-Sep: Welcome to the Schriefer Blog, my name is Tavis Schriefer. Recently, my wife Jill and I raised money to supply driFIRE shirts to every soldier in Apache Company of the 1-501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. We were successful in raising over $6500 and we would like to thank everyone for all their support to make this happen.
Please read our entire message here...

Friday, September 28, 2007

My Thoughts

My thoughts and prayers go out to Spc. Sandoval, Sgt Evan Vela and Staff Sgt Michael Hensley. America has chosen to place them in the most difficult situation that humans can endure. They have spent over a year protecting our country and our countries interests in a hostile area where we are the only ones that try to play by the rules. Many times they have made difficult decisions performing duties that most Americans are unwilling to do. I hope for the best for these soldiers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nick Update

Jill and I spoke had a good conversation with Nick last night. After we hung up, he was going to chow then going to get a wisdom tooth pulled out. The other three will need to come out too, but they think those can wait until after he is back in the USA.

Nick says that things in Jurf have improved so much that it is suprising. He said that you can almost walk around out there now and feel safe. He said that people around there actually are starting to be nice to the US Soldiers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CNN - Sunni insurgents side with U.S. against al Qaeda

YUSUFIYAH, Iraq (CNN) -- Until recently, Yusufiyah was among the most dangerous places in Iraq.

Located in the so-called "triangle of death," a violent area south of Baghdad, it was the site of frequent clashes between coalition forces and Sunni fighters. In May, two U.S. soldiers went missing in Yusufiyah and were never found, despite a massive search.

But today, Sunni tribal leaders in this town cooperate with U.S. forces in their battle against foreign fighters and al Qaeda in Iraq.

"It's all the roll of the dice. It's people and politics all intertwined down here," said Col. Michael Kershaw, commander of the Second Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11

The new exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, for example, is not a commemoration. “Here Is New York: Remembering 9/11,” which opens today, is exclusively about memory, which doesn’t diminish its power. In two galleries 1,500 inkjet-printed photos taken six years ago during those apocalyptic days are mounted with simple stationery clips. They are reminders of hidden pressure points and buried sensations...

“Here Is New York: Remembering 9/11” continues through Dec. 31 at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, at 77th Street; (212) 873-3400, nyhistory.org.

Link: NY Times Story

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Article: Sunni sheikhs turn their sights from US forces to Al-Qaeda

9-SEP-2007 -- FOUR months ago the scene would have been unthinkable. Captain Henry Moltz of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment led a small group of men up the deserted street to a single-storey municipal building of mellow ochre brick that had been cracked by mortar blasts during months of ruinous fighting with Sunni insurgents.

At the entrance he was greeted with a kiss by Sheikh Sabah al-Janabi, a leading member of the tribe that had spearheaded many of the pitiless Sunni attacks on American forces in and around the little town of Jurf as Sakhr, 25 miles south of Baghdad...

[Read the full story]

Link to original UK Sunday Times article

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Iraqi recruits head to “Boot Camp”

ISKANDARIYAH — Shiite and Sunni Muslims came from far and wide Sept. 2 to begin working together for the greater good of their country.

Sparked by a successful recruiting campaign, these Iraqis crossed over their sectarian boundaries and started their journey toward becoming the newest members of the Iraqi Army.

Congregating at the compound of 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, located adjacent to Forward Operating Base Iskandariyah, home of 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, these new recruits arrived by the truck load to be processed and transported to their basic training.

“The recruiting drive started on Aug. 12 and lasted through the 16th,” said Capt. Douglas Mulvaney, a member of Military Transitional Team 248. “In all, the drive yielded 1,500 Iraqis willing to join the Iraqi army.”

For many of the recruits, the fact that they are able just to have a chance to do something to help their country is reward enough. But for some, this opportunity means so much more.

“I am just glad that I have a chance to come here and be given the opportunity to show everyone that we want to change and make a better way of life,” said Ali Raghib, one of the recruits out of Jurf as Sakhr. “In my neighborhood, I see that things are getting better and I want to be part of the change in the right direction.”

Getting from their homes to Iskandariyah was the biggest challenge for most of the recruits because of the threat of sectarian violence.

“The Iraqi Army has given these people an opportunity to make something better for themselves and their friends and neighbors,” Mulvaney said. “It has erased the danger of traveling to and from different areas, which would have previously discouraged any activity like joining the Iraqi Army.”

The Iraqi Army transportation system took recruits from the compound to their basic training location.

“Seeing how they arranged for the recruits to get here safely is a true testament that the Iraqi Army system structure really works,” Mulvaney said.

For recruits, what awaits them is a rigorous 45-day training program where they will learn basic soldiering skills, rank structure and general military knowledge. Following basic training, the new soldiers will be assigned to different battalions and then go through a 30-day skill screening process to determine their strengths and be placed in a position equivalent to their skills.

“I am excited about the training we are about to receive,” said Hussein Resan Thaif, a native of Mussaiyaib. “I will do everything I can to serve my country and help my family to the best of my ability.”

In a country that has a high rate of unemployment, the recruiting drive for many is just what the doctor ordered.

“One of the biggest successes for this drive is that 1,500 people are going to be back to work,” Mulvaney said. “This eliminates the numbers of people who may turn to militia for money because it gives them another option versus killing for sectarian reasons.”

The recruitment drive was a joint effort between Military Transitional Team 248 and 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division. After months of planning and preparation, the vision has come full circle.

“Having been there side-by-side from the beginning and seeing these Iraqis arrive in swarms gives our Military Transitional Team and the Iraqi Army a great sense of accomplishment,” Mulvaney said. “Seeing all of our hard work pay off tells us we have done a small part to help each other make this country a safer place to live.”

Article: U.S. Efforts May Work Against Iraqi Self-Sufficiency

Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 5, 2007

..."We can fire the police chief, we can get the mayor removed if we want. Iraq is a sovereign country, don't get me wrong, but I wonder how much they would get their act together if our presence was reduced," said Maj. Craig Whiteside of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment.

"It's impossible to put the American military somewhere and not have everybody, when they have to make a decision, ask, 'Is this okay, boss?' "

In this region, where Sunnis and Shiite groups are battling for power, U.S. reconstruction efforts are largely focused on Sunni areas ignored by the Shiite-led government. U.S. officers say the Iraqi government is unwilling to spend money on Sunni areas because the United States is doing so...
Full Article

Abdul Amir Hussein works on a network of hoses that supply water to an apartment complex in central Baghdad. Power blackouts have hampered the capital's pumping and filtration stations.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Video Segment Covering Jurf as Sukr

This is part of Freedom Journal Iraq. A video podcast published daily by the DoD. This segment was from 28-August and covers Jurf as Sukr. Worth watching just to know how to say "Jurf as Sukr".

Monday, September 03, 2007

driFIRE Shirts - UPDATE

Here's an update on our efforts with the driFIRE shirts. We have raised just over $6,600 so far and are working towards our goal of $8,000.

Thanks to Robert Wilonsky from the Dallas Observer for his mention in his blog Unfair Park. This is exactly they type of help we need to get our word out and help us to reach our goal. (see the article here)

As many of you know, we have previously shipped enough shirts to the 3rd Platoon. They have received them and they are working out GREAT!! We recently shipped 2 shirts per soldier to 1st, 2nd and 4th Platoons, but we are hoping to reach our goal so that we can at least send them another shirt each. While they may wear the same shirt for four days at a time, it probably feels pretty good to have a clean one.

Money continues to trickle in, and we appreciate every bit of it. If you haven't already, please share with your friends. If anyone has any ideas how to help get to our $8K goal, please let me know.

Thanks, Tavis

Capt. Moltz Describes the Concerned Citizens Program at Jurf as Sukr

Capt. Moltz talks to a military reporter about the concerned citizens program in effect in Jurf as Sukr, Iraq, employing local Iraqis for the program, and improvements in areas where the program is in effect.

Source: http://www.dvidshub.net/vjump.php?vid=28244

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Concerned citizens root out terrorists

Friday, 31 August 2007
ISKANDARIYAH — The citizens of Iraq are fighting back against terrorists in one Sunni dominated area south of Baghdad.
Paratroopers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, are now fighting the enemy with information from hundreds of citizens who have pledged responsibility for the security of their neighborhoods.

The Concerned Citizens Program is similar to an all-volunteer Neighborhood Watch. During a recent operation in Jurf as Sakhr, concerned citizens led Iraqi soldiers and U.S. paratroopers to a stronghold where five al-Qaeda members were killed after paratroopers called in precision air strikes from helicopter gunships and U.S. Air Force fighter jets to destroy the building.

This has been the first attempted attack by al-Qaeda and other extremists since the Concerned Citizens Program began almost two months ago.

"This is a resounding victory for the concerned citizens and for the Coalition Forces. The few remaining extremists have nowhere to hide because the population will no longer harbor them" said Capt. Henry Moltz, commander, Company A. "There are 160 paratroopers in Company A, but with the Concerned Citizens there are now thousands of eyes and ears working toward the same security goals."

There are now more than 500 registered members of the Concerned Citizens Program who have volunteered to protect their villages and roads while they await training for the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police forces.

At least 300 concerned citizens have already been accepted into the Iraqi army. Moltz estimates another 300 people will register for the Concerned Citizens Program in the next few weeks, and that the Iraqi police will begin to accept the concerned citizens into their ranks within the next month.

Jurf as Sahkr has long been one of the most hostile and dangerous areas of Iraq.

"In the past three weeks these brave volunteers have helped clear their villages of terrorists who are no longer welcome here," Moltz said. "Together with the local population, almost all of Jurf as Sahkr has been reclaimed from al-Qaeda and other extremist fighters. The streets are finally quiet."

Video: Apache Company and Blackfoot Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne
B-roll of U.S. Soldiers patrolling Jurf as Sukr and conducting an air assault. Scenes include Soldiers experiencing a nearby explosion during their patrol, being airlifted into their assault area, and discovering weapons caches. Two Soldiers are interviewed at the end; Capt. Kevin McDaniel (4th Platoon Leader) and Sgt. Steven Caldwell (2nd Squad Team Leader).

Source: http://www.dvidshub.net/vjump.php?vid=28243

Video: 1st Lt. Harrington, Platoon Leader, 2nd Platoon, Blackfoot Co.
Talks to a military reporter about facilitating local nationals with their checkpoints, discovering a weapons cache at a nearby hot spot, and his pride in his unit. Also see "Concerned Citizens Program/Blackfoot Co. 1/501 Air Assault and Patrol" in the B-roll section and "Capt. Moltz" and "Sgt. Coyle" in the Interviews section.

Source: http://www.dvidshub.net/vjump.php?vid=28245