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.

Pages

2:54pm

Sun October 30, 2011
Afghanistan

Afghan Success Comes At High Price For Commander

Originally published on Fri November 4, 2011 5:57 pm

Lt. Col. Jason Morris pays his respects at a memorial service in Sangin, Afghanistan, on Nov. 26, 2010, for three Marines who were killed: Lance Cpl. Brandon Pearson, Lance Cpl. Matthew Broehm and 1st Lt. Robert Kelly. Morris commanded a battalion in volatile Helmand province that suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit in the Afghanistan War.

Lance Cpl. Joseph M. Peterson U.S. Marine Corps

A year ago, nearly 1,000 U.S. Marine officers and enlisted men of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment deployed to restive Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. By the time their tour ended in April 2011, the Marines of the 3/5 — known as "Darkhorse" — suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the past 10 years of war. This week, NPR tells the story of this unit's seven long months at war — both in Afghanistan and back home.

First of seven parts

Read more

12:00am

Sat October 8, 2011
National Security

Veterans, Civilians Don't See Eye To Eye On War

Saturday begins the 11th year in the war in Afghanistan, and a new poll shows that veterans and the general public have different views on war, the value of military service — and even patriotism.

David Gilkey NPR

Veterans and the general public have different views on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the value of military service, and even the subject of patriotism, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

The United States has never seen a moment like this one, the Pew Center says. Sustained combat for a decade, and a small fraction of American men and women in uniform.

Read more

4:09pm

Wed October 5, 2011
National Security

Gap Grows Between Military, Civilians On War

Originally published on Fri October 7, 2011 4:42 pm

A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows a significant divergence on attitudes toward war and military service between members of the military and civilians.

David Gilkey NPR

As the U.S. marks the 10th anniversary of its involvement in the Afghan war this week, a Pew Research Center report shows some wide differences between the way military members and the general public view the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Pew researchers talked to nearly 4,000 people, split almost evenly between military veterans and civilians. Paul Taylor, the editor of the study, said he wanted to explore this unique moment in American history.

Read more

12:01am

Thu September 15, 2011
National Security

For A Marine Hero, A Medal Of Honor

Marine Dakota Meyer poses during his deployment in Kunar province, Afghanistan. President Obama is awarding him the Medal of Honor on Thursday, making him the first living Marine to receive the honor since the Vietnam War.
Anonymous AP

Shortly after dawn on a September morning in 2009, American and Afghan troops set out on patrol along a rocky mile-long stretch in eastern Afghanistan. They were heading to a small village for a routine meeting with tribal elders.

Suddenly, everything went wrong.

Cpl. Dakota Meyer and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, who had stayed behind with the vehicles, heard small arms fire in the distance and knew instantly it was an ambush. Rodriguez-Chavez then heard an officer yelling for help on the radio.

Read more

4:00am

Thu September 1, 2011
Governing

Panel Finds Widespread Waste By Wartime Contractors

A report by a congressional commission says the U.S. has lost tens of billions of dollars during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because of waste and fraud in government contracts. The panel offered 15 recommendations to tackle the contracting mess. But one suggested fix — hire more government workers — might not be too popular right now.

12:01am

Wed August 31, 2011
Closing Walter Reed

In 2007, Walter Reed Was The Army's Wakeup Call

At Walter Reed, Oscar Olguin and his family were visited by President Bush and first lady Laura Bush. But Olguin says that when he left the hospital, he had to fend for himself.
Courtesy of Oscar Olguin

For more than a century, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was known as the hospital that catered to presidents and generals. Eisenhower was treated and died there. So too did Generals "Black Jack" Pershing, Douglas MacArthur and George Marshall.

But in recent years, Walter Reed was shorthand for scandal.

A 2007 series that dominated the front page of The Washington Post told of decrepit housing and wounded soldiers left to fend for themselves.

Read more

11:09am

Mon August 15, 2011
Closing Walter Reed

When Will Closing Walter Reed Pay Off? Maybe 2018

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 6:08 pm

BRAC Commission Chairman Anthony J. Principi, and other member of the commission raise their hands in favor of closing Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington during a base closing hearing Aug. 25, 2005 in Arlington, Va.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

When the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was slated for closure back in 1995, the goals were to improve care for wounded soldiers, and to save money. The final patients left this past week.

But with closing Walter Reed now estimated to cost more than $1 billion more than originally predicted, it could take many years before the military will realize any savings.

Read more

8:00am

Sat August 13, 2011
National Security

What Crashed Our Hypersonic Drone?

Pentagon officials are investigating what happened to its Falcon Hypersonic aircraft that crashed into the Pacific Ocean last week. The Falcon is the fastest aircraft ever built and can fly 13,000 miles per hour. It's designed to carry a conventional warhead against any target within an hour. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman reports.

12:01am

Tue August 9, 2011
Afghanistan

Military Faces Challenge In Rebuilding SEAL Team 6

The Taliban attack that claimed the lives of nearly two dozen members of the elite and secretive unit called SEAL Team 6 places a huge burden on the Special Forces community.

Officials say with a roughly 10 percent loss, they may have to rotate SEALs in before their downtime is complete, or pull SEALs from staff and training positions. Longer term, it will mean juggling the new SEAL Team 6 members with veterans.

Read more

8:00am

Sun August 7, 2011
Afghanistan

Navy SEALs Mourn Heavy Loss In Afghanistan

The Navy SEAL community is mourning the loss of more than two dozen members. They were among 30 Americans killed Saturday when their helicopter came under fire during an operation in eastern Afghanistan. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman reports.

12:01am

Wed July 6, 2011
Who Serves

A Teacher Leaves The Classroom For Afghanistan

Darryl St. George, a Navy corpsman with Weapons Company of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., reads a book as the sun rises over a temporary base nicknamed "Patrol Base Suc" in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.
David Gilkey NPR

A very small number of Americans are now serving in the military — less than 1 percent. Some are looking for direction; others are inspired by a sense of patriotism or by a family member who served in an earlier war. In the series Who Serves, NPR looks at those who have made a decision few others today have — to fight in America's wars.

Read more

12:01am

Tue July 5, 2011
Afghanistan

Marine: 'We're Starting To Fall To The Wayside'

A Marine walks along a mud wall while conducting a search and clearing operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province, as the dust from a wheat thrashing machine falls like snow.
David Gilkey NPR

A very small number of Americans are now serving in the military — less than 1 percent. Some are looking for direction; others are inspired by a sense of patriotism or by a family member who served in an earlier war. In the series Who Serves, NPR looks at the troops who have made a decision few others have — to fight in America's wars.

Read more

12:01am

Mon July 4, 2011
Afghanistan

For Some, The Decision To Enlist Offers Direction

Marine Lance CPL. Andrew Zemore, 23, from Fredericksburg, Va., is a self-described troublemaker who liked to party too much. Zemore said he fell into the Marine Corps and now is on a Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team where he searches out bombs with a hand-held metal detector.
David Gilkey NPR

A very small number of Americans are now serving in the military — less than 1 percent. Some are looking for direction; others are inspired by a sense of patriotism or by a family member who served in an earlier war. In the series Who Serves, NPR looks at the soldiers that made a decision few others today have — to fight in America's wars.

Private First Class Dave Kroha from Cromwell, Conn. is a lanky 23-year-old stuffed into the back of an armored vehicle that rumbles along a dusty road in Afghanistan. His wire-rimmed glasses are held together by tape.

Read more

4:30pm

Thu June 30, 2011
Afghanistan

Fighting Shifts To Afghanistan's Mountainous East

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:42 am

Afghan National Army troops take a break while on a joint patrol and clearing operation with Butcher Troop, part of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, in eastern Afghanistan.
David Gilkey NPR/Redux

The American-led fight in Afghanistan is changing. The toughest fighting is shifting from the south — Helmand and Kandahar provinces — to the east. There, high, craggy mountains offer shelter to Taliban fighters.

And it's one group of fighters in particular that American and Afghan forces are battling: a branch of the Taliban known as the Haqqani network.

A 'Cavalry Fight' In Hostile Country

Read more

3:21pm

Fri June 17, 2011
Afghanistan

Marines Team Up With Afghan 'Neighborhood Watch'

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:44 am

Isutalah of the Interim Security for Critical Infrastructure force on foot patrol in northern Marjah with Marines of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment.
David Gilkey NPR

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is in Washington this week. He's already met with President Obama, and the White House is debating how many troops to withdraw from Afghanistan.

One factor in that decision: whether Afghans can take over the fight.

An area of Afghanistan that was the scene of major combat a year ago is now a test case for whether peace can hold in the country. North of the district of Marjah, in Helmand province, Marines are working with locals who know the area and know the enemy.

Read more

4:03pm

Tue June 14, 2011
Remembrances

'Hell Of A Leader': Marines Remember Sgt. Garrison

Sgt. Joseph Garrison with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, runs through the desert near Camp Leatherneck during a drill in June 2009. Garrison was killed while on his fourth combat deployment to Afghanistan in June 2011, when he was struck by a homemade bomb in Marja.
David Gilkey NPR

On Friday, Marines will gather to remember Sgt. Joseph Garrison at a small combat outpost in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Garrison, 27, was killed earlier this month by a roadside bomb.

NPR talked with Garrison on an earlier deployment, when he was busy training Marines for an operation against Taliban forces in the Helmand River valley.

"We're brothers. We eat together, train together, sleep together," Garrison said two years ago. "And we'll die for each other."

'Hell Of A Leader'

Read more

2:36pm

Tue May 17, 2011
The Two-Way

The Name Game: Who Will Be The Next Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff?

The name game continues around Washington about who will be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Adm. Mike Mullen steps down at the end of September.

Marine Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman, has long been seen as the front runner. But now a new name, according to Pentagon and defense sources, is picking up steam: Gen. Martin Dempsey, who was installed as Army chief of staff just over a month ago.

Read more

12:01am

Tue May 17, 2011
News

As U.S. Military Exits Iraq, Contractors To Enter

A U.S. Army helicopter brigade is set to pull out of Baghdad in December, as part of an agreement with the Iraqi government to remove U.S. forces. So the armed helicopters flying over the Iraqi capital next year will have pilots and machine gunners from DynCorp International, a company based in Virginia.

On the ground, it's the same story. American soldiers and Marines will leave. Those replacing them, right down to carrying assault weapons, will come from places with names like Aegis Defence Services and Global Strategies Group — eight companies in all.

Read more

12:01am

Wed May 4, 2011
National Security

Bin Laden Mission Called For SEAL Team Six

More than two dozen U.S. commandos carried out the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.

The identities of the men who were apart of it may never be known.

They were members of SEAL Team Six.

To clarify, there's a unit called Navy SEALS, and then there is SEAL Team Six. They are not the same.

Eric Greitens is a Navy SEAL. He made it through a grueling six-month course in California, where some two-thirds of candidates fail.

Then he was sent to Afghanistan as a member of that elite unit, hunting down al-Qaida fighters.

Read more

4:00am

Thu April 28, 2011
National Security

Obama To Announce New National Security Team

The White House has been planning to reshuffle its national security line up for months, and it is expected to announce the new team Thursday. The changes have been driven by the planned retirement of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Pages