NPR: Rachel Martin

Rachel Martin is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

Prior to moving into the host position in the fall of 2012, Martin started as National Security Correspondent for NPR in May 2010. In that position she covered both defense and intelligence issues. She traveled regularly to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Secretary of Defense, reporting on the U.S. wars and the effectiveness of the Pentagon's counterinsurgency strategy. Martin also reported extensively on the changing demographic of the U.S. military – from the debate over whether to allow women to fight in combat units – to the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Her reporting on how the military is changing also took her to a U.S. Air Force base in New Mexico for a rare look at how the military trains drone pilots.

Martin was part of the team that launched NPR's experimental morning news show, The Bryant Park Project, based in New York — a two-hour daily multimedia program that she co-hosted with Alison Stewart and Mike Pesca.

In 2006-2007, Martin served as NPR's religion correspondent. Her piece on Islam in America was awarded "Best Radio Feature" by the Religion News Writers Association in 2007. As one of NPR's reporters assigned to cover the Virginia Tech massacre that same year, she was on the school's campus within hours of the shooting and on the ground in Blacksburg, Va., covering the investigation and emotional aftermath in the following days.

Based in Berlin, Germany, Martin worked as a NPR foreign correspondent from 2005-2006. During her time in Europe, she covered the London terrorist attacks, the federal elections in Germany, the 2006 World Cup and issues surrounding immigration and shifting cultural identities in Europe.

Her foreign reporting experience extends beyond Europe. Martin has also worked extensively in Afghanistan. She began reporting from there as a freelancer during the summer of 2003, covering the reconstruction effort in the wake of the U.S. invasion. In fall 2004, Martin returned for several months to cover Afghanistan's first democratic presidential election. She has reported widely on women's issues in Afghanistan, the fledgling political and governance system and the U.S.-NATO fight against the insurgency. She has also reported from Iraq, where she covered U.S. military operations and the strategic alliance between Sunni sheiks and the U.S. military in Anbar province.

Martin started her career at public radio station KQED in San Francisco, as a producer and reporter.

She holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, and a Master's degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.



Mon July 18, 2011

As Leadership Changes, So Could Afghanistan Strategy

Afghan National Army soldier Mohammed Shadwar gets a bird's-eye view from the rooftop of a mud-walled compound during a joint clearing operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan. As the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan changes, there's a question of whether U.S. policy will shift from one that supports building up Afghan national security forces to one focused on targeting insurgents.
David Gilkey NPR

Gen. David Petraeus stepped down as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Monday and handed control of the war over to Marine Corps Gen. John Allen. Petraeus is leaving to become head of the CIA at the end of the summer.

A year ago, President Obama asked Petraeus to take charge in Afghanistan and jump start the counterinsurgency operation there. Now, there's a question of whether Monday's change in command also signals a change in strategy.

The Counterinsurgency Strategy

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Mon July 11, 2011
NPR Story

Panetta Speaks On Attacks Against U.S. Troops In Iraq

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (left) sits with Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, as they fly in a Black Hawk helicopter over Baghdad on Monday.
Paul J. Richards AP

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has been on the job for all of 11 days and he's already frustrated with Iraq.

"I'd like things to move a lot faster here, frankly, in terms of the decision-making process. I'd like them to make a decision, you know: Do they want us to stay? Don't they want us to stay? ... But damn it, make a decision," he said during a visit to Baghdad on Monday following a brief trip to Afghanistan. It's Panetta's first trip to the warzones since assuming his new job last week.

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Sat July 9, 2011

Fresh From The CIA, Panetta Lands In Afghanistan

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is in Afghanistan Saturday, his first visit to that country since assuming the position. Panetta's view of the war in Afghanistan may be colored by his experience as director of the CIA and the successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Panetta takes the reins at the Pentagon riding high. He oversaw the CIA and is credited for helping the agency track down bin Laden. On the flight to Kabul, Panetta told reporters that he believes al-Qaida and its affiliates are on their heels.

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Mon June 27, 2011
National Security

Gates To Depart Pentagon After Serving Bush, Obama

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks to troops in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
Jason Reed/Pool Getty Images

On Thursday, Robert Gates will step down as defense secretary — a position he held for more than four years, overseeing two wars. He's the only person to hold the job under two presidents from different parties.

For the past two years, he's attained a kind of "wise man" status within the Obama administration. While he makes weekly visits to the White House, he has also spent a great deal of time in khakis and a baseball cap out in the field with men and women in uniform.

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Thu May 12, 2011

Will Bin Laden's Death Affect Afghan Insurgency?

It didn't take long for some on Capitol Hill to point to the successful operation to kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as evidence that the U.S. could be winning the war in Afghanistan with fewer troops on the ground.

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Sat May 7, 2011
Osama Bin Laden Killed

Videos Reveal Osama Bin Laden's Life In Hiding

The Pentagon released five short videos on Saturday that were recovered from the Pakistani compound where Osama bin Laden had been living — and was killed. NPR's Rachel Martin tells host Guy Raz that the videos and other correspondence found at the compound in Abbottabad indicate that bin Laden was still a tactical leader for al-Qaida.


Wed April 20, 2011

U.S. Tries To Lay Groundwork For Afghan Peace Talks

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in Pakistan and Afghanistan this week for talks with military officials there. The visit comes as U.S. officials try to lay the groundwork for peace talks aimed at bringing an end to the war in Afghanistan.