Tom Bowman

If you ask NPR reporter Tom Bowman about his career aspirations, he'd probably tell you he already has the best job possible: covering the Pentagon for NPR. For Bowman, coming to NPR was an "excellent opportunity to work at a great organization with a world-wide reputation, a huge listenership, and stability" and to work closely with "some of the best journalists around."

Bowman's nuanced NPR coverage reflects his years of experience on his current beat. Before coming to NPR in April 2006, Bowman spent nine years as a Pentagon reporter at the Baltimore Sun. His familiarity and knowledge of the people and issues connected with the Pentagon, he says, are great assets to his coverage.

During his 19 years at the Baltimore Sun, Bowman also covered the Maryland Statehouse, the United States Congress, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the National Security Agency (NSA). His coverage of racial and gender discrimination at NSA led to a Pentagon investigation in 1994.

Bowman says he has been groomed for journalism since a young age, recalling his years at a parochial school just outside of Boston. The strict Catholic nuns and scholarly Xaverian brothers were "good preparation for covering the Pentagon," he reflects. "You are taught how to hone your questions and develop a thick skin." Bowman also recognizes that the "training under lots of Irish relatives – and friends – who can charm their way into a situation and talk a dog off a meat truck," have been assets to his career.

Bowman initially imagined his career path would take him into academia as a history, government, or journalism professor. However, after graduation he landed a job at the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass., and thrived amid "the deadlines, the competition, and the personalities both at a newspaper and in the political realm." Bowman also worked for the Daily Transcript in Dedham, Mass., and then as a reporter at States News Service, writing for the Miami Herald and the Anniston (Ala.) Star.

Over his career, Bowman as been honored with several awards for news writing and features, from the New England Press Association and the Maryland Press Association. He is also a co-winner of a 2006 National Headliners' Award for stories on the lack of advanced tourniquets for U.S. troops in Iraq.

NPR's White House Correspondent David Greene says of Bowman, "Tom is so well-sourced. Anytime I would talk to someone at the Pentagon or in the military, they would not only know Tom, but would compliment his reporting and pass on a hello. And what a team player — Tom is always willing to pitch in and share his expertise in any way that makes our stories better."

Bowman earned a B.A. in history from St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vt., and a master's degree in American Studies at Boston College.

If he had his choice of locales, Bowman's geographic inclinations would take him far from the DC area; he'd prefer to spend summers on Monhegan Island, Maine, and pass the winters skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Till then, you'll find him on NPR.

The new troops of the Afghan 215th Corps are assembled on a wide plaza at midday at their base, called Camp Shorabak.

Passing in review is their new commander, Maj. Gen. Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai. He proved himself fighting the Taliban in northeast Afghanistan. Now he's in charge of Helmand — the deadliest province in a troubled country.

Gen. John W. "Mick" Nicholson settles into his wood-paneled office inside the American-led military headquarters in Kabul. It's lined with plaques, pictures and ceremonial swords.

He has spent more time in Afghanistan, in various jobs, than any other senior American officer — a total of 5 1/2 years. The commander of NATO's Resolute Support mission and U.S. forces in Afghanistan since March 2016, Nicholson is a genial West Point graduate with salt-and-pepper hair — and a renewed confidence.

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President Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to an Army medic on Monday afternoon at the White House, nearly 50 years after his heroic actions during the Vietnam War.

Over three days of bravery, Jim McCloughan ran toward enemy fire numerous times to save his fellow soldiers, even though he was wounded himself.

At the ceremony, the president called McCloughan a "hero" and "a veteran who went above and beyond the call of duty."

"He would not flinch in the face of sure death and definite danger," Trump said.

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Today - this afternoon at the White House, President Trump awards the Medal of Honor to United States Army medic, who is receiving the honor almost 50 years after his actions during the Vietnam War.

A debate has broken out at the Pentagon and in Congress over a proposal to dismantle an 8-year-old program that gives fast-track citizenship to immigrant soldiers who were recruited because they have critical skills in languages and medicine.

More than 4,000 immigrant soldiers recruited through the program — mostly from China and South Korea — are serving in uniform, including on overseas tours. Another 4,000 recruits have enlisted and are awaiting training.

When President Donald Trump selected retired Marine Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary, it was a rare choice. No recently retired general had been selected for the top Pentagon job since George Marshall, some 66 years earlier.

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U.S. Marine artillerymen are now in place on Syrian soil, north of the last stronghold of the Islamic State. A force of local Kurdish and Arab fighters is moving south, continuing to isolate the city of Raqqa.

They're in the opening stages of a major military operation that officials say could last into the fall.

What comes next is expected to have huge implications not only for the fate of ISIS but also for the relationship between Turkey and Russia, as well as the geographic outlines of the future Syrian state.

It will be very complicated.

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A new year and a new president could mean a new phase in the war against the Islamic State. Donald Trump promised to defeat that group many times throughout his campaign. Here's what he said back in September.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Donald Trump announced his choice to be defense secretary.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis...

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: ...As our secretary of defense.

Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's planned choice for National Security Adviser, is perhaps best known to the American public for his fiery speech at the Republican National Convention in the summer, when he spoke to chants of "lock her up," a reference to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — and joined in himself.

It was a strange position for someone who was a career military officer and a registered Democrat from Rhode Island.

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The military is famous for working long hours, not only on overseas deployments to hot spots like Iraq or Afghanistan but back home, too. It's almost a badge of honor.

So balancing work and family life can be especially difficult for those in uniform. Take Air Force Maj. Johanna Ream.

She's working a high-powered, top-secret job. Her husband's an Air Force cargo plane pilot who flies all over the world. And they were the parents of an infant named Jack when this happened:

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Today in the skies over New Mexico, Air Force students are practicing for the kill.

They sit at terminals at Holloman Air Force Base, watching grainy images from a drone video feed. Thousands of feet below, at a desert training range, role players portray civilians and fighters inside a village. The students must find the proper target, then with a push of a button, they unleash a simulated airstrike.

A Turkish admiral who just wrapped up a NATO job in Norfolk, Va., last month is being pursued by Turkish officials, who say he was part of the failed July 15 coup in Turkey.

U.S. officials say Rear Adm. Mustafa Zeki Ugurlu is considering seeking asylum in either the U.S. or another NATO country. A spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Steve Blando, said, "We cannot comment on any specific asylum requests."

The Afghan army commander said the treacherous road to Marjah, in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand, was now safe. His forces had driven out the Taliban a few days earlier, he added.

"The road is open, so no problem," said Lt. Gen. Moeen Faqir. "Of course I hope you go there and find the reality and reflect it."

The American Green Berets were seated around a long, plywood table at their base when they spotted the Taliban counterattack on their screens.

The burly Americans were working on computers, drinking coffee and munching on chips and peanut butter cookies. Their team leader answered an ever-ringing phone, giving his superiors updates on an Afghan commando mission in the mountains just north of Afghanistan's Kandahar Airfield.

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Over the past 15 years, 1,832 American servicemen and women have been killed in action in Afghanistan. Today at Kandahar airfield, a race was organized to remember the fallen. Brigadier General Tony Aguto had this to say.

With American troops mostly focused on training Afghan soldiers, the hospital on the sprawling Bagram Airfield doesn't have many combat trauma cases anymore. In fact, it just has one.

A 6-year-old girl, caught in a firefight between American and Afghan soldiers and Taliban insurgents, has been in intensive care since she was shot earlier this year. The gun battle killed her father, a Taliban fighter, along with her mother and some siblings. It's not clear who fired the bullet that struck her.

The Pentagon hopes an ISIS chemical weapons engineer captured in Iraq last month will lead U.S. troops to possible weapons sites and help prevent chemical attacks by the Islamic State.

Defense officials hope that Sleiman Daoud al-Afari will help them find storage sites for chemical munitions including mustard agent, which can blister the skin and lungs and lead to death in high concentrations. Iraqi officials told the Associated Press that al-Afari worked for Saddam Hussein's military and has long been a member of ISIS, which seized portions of Iraq last summer.

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Some 700 American troops on a long-running deployment could be in danger of an attack by extremists affiliated with the Islamic State, the Pentagon worries, but it may not be able to get them out anytime soon.

U.S. military commanders fear the soldiers deployed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and charged with keeping the peace between Egypt and Israel, are becoming an irresistible target for Islamist fighters concentrating nearby.

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