Tom Bowman

Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.

In his current role, Bowman has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan often for month-long visits and embedded with U.S. Marines and soldiers.

Before coming to NPR in April 2006, Bowman spent nine years as a Pentagon reporter at The Baltimore Sun. Altogether he was at The Sun for nearly two decades, covering the Maryland Statehouse, the U.S. 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.

Initially Bowman imagined his career path would take him into academia as a history, government, or journalism professor. During college Bowman worked as a stringer at The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass. He 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.

Bowman is a co-winner of a 2006 National Headliners' Award for stories on the lack of advanced tourniquets for U.S. troops in Iraq. In 2010, he received an Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of a Taliban roadside bomb attack on an Army unit.

Bowman earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vermont, and a master's degree in American Studies from Boston College.

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12:44pm

Tue December 9, 2014
National Security

Senate Panel's Report On CIA Calls Harsh Tactics Ineffective

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 5:16 pm

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5:56am

Fri December 5, 2014
National Security

Obama Points To Ashton Carter For Defense Secretary

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 1:07 pm

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10:29am

Mon November 24, 2014
U.S.

Secretary Of Defense Hagel To Resign

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 1:02 pm

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5:16am

Mon November 24, 2014
Back At Base

Combat Training: Can Female Marines Get The Job Done?

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 9:46 am

Katie Gorz (left) performs the ammo can lift next to male Marines as they go through the combat fitness test. The Marine Corps is experimenting with inserting some women into combat infantry roles that have historically been limited to men. At Camp Lejeune, female Marines are undergoing the same training as their male counterparts for combat arms.
Travis Dove for NPR

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base."

Lance Cpl. Jasmine Abrego is an office clerk who dreams of becoming a warrior.

She's flat on her stomach in the dirt, in full combat gear. Suddenly she pops up, slings a 44-pound metal tripod on her back and lurches forward in a crablike run. Finally, she slams the tripod to the ground. A male Marine slaps a .50-caliber machine gun into place.

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4:46am

Thu October 30, 2014
Parallels

With Limited Gains, U.S. Bombing Campaign Faces Growing Criticism

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 2:25 pm

Iraqi soldiers walk in Jurf al-Sakhr, south of the capital Baghdad, on Monday after Iraqi military forces retook the area from Islamic State militants. Iraqi forces, supported by U.S. airstrikes, have made limited gains in recent months, but critics are questioning whether the U.S. strategy is likely to succeed.
Haidar Mohammed Ali AFP/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been on the defensive recently about the strategy to take on the Islamic State. American warplanes have been bombing targets in Iraq and Syria, but militant fighters are still on the move.

"We have made it very clear, I have and President Obama has, that this is a long, difficult effort," Hagel said.

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6:14pm

Wed September 24, 2014
Middle East

Second Round Of Airstrikes In Syria Target Oil Assets

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 3:29 pm

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4:27pm

Thu August 28, 2014
U.S.

With Drones In Flight Over Syria, Questions Of Airstrikes Rise With Them

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 7:28 pm

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4:31pm

Fri August 22, 2014
Iraq

With Initial U.S. Airstrikes A Success, Will They Expand?

Originally published on Sat August 23, 2014 12:21 pm

Peshmerga fighters inspect the remains of a car bearing an image of the trademark jihadist flag, after it was targeted by an American airstrike in the village of Baqouba, north of Mosul. The car reportedly belonged to Islamic State militants
Ahmad Al-Rubaye AFP/Getty Images

Pentagon officials announced still another U.S. airstrike in Iraq on Friday. Fighter and attack aircraft hit Islamic State armored vehicles and machine guns.

That makes nearly 100 U.S. bombing runs in the past few weeks, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that enabled Iraqi and Kurdish forces to fight the group — also known as ISIL — around two northern Iraqi cities.

"American airstrikes and American arms and assistance helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces blunt ISIL's advances around Irbil and helped the Iraqis retake and hold Mosul Dam," Hagel said.

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7:45pm

Tue August 5, 2014
National Security

Victim Of Insider Attack, Gen. Harold Greene Was An Engineer By Training

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 9:46 am

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7:20am

Tue July 29, 2014
Middle East

For Two Years, He Smuggled Photos Of Torture Victims Out Of Syria

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 3:01 pm

This is one of the some 55,000 images the former Syrian military police photographer known as Caesar smuggled out of the country between 2011 and 2013. The regime used numbers — written on white cards and sometimes directly on the skin — to identify the dead, which branch of the Syrian government had held them, and when they died.
Courtesy of Syrian Emergency Task Force

Warning: This report contains descriptions and an image that could disturb some readers.

The savage and protracted conflict in Syria has left more than 170,000 dead. Now, there are allegations of torture and killing of political prisoners opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Those allegations appear to be supported by evidence: tens of thousands of photographs.

The man who says he took the pictures worked as a military police photographer for the Assad regime and defected last year.

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4:15pm

Fri July 25, 2014
Politics

Army War College Opens A Probe Into Sen. Walsh's Alleged Plagiarism

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 7:40 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:45am

Wed July 23, 2014
National Security

U.S. Intelligence Tracking What Happened To Flight MH17

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 7:51 am

Senior U.S. intelligence officials say they have proof that a surface-to-air missile was launched when the airliner went down and have ID'd people in a recorded conversation implicating the culprits.

4:30pm

Mon July 21, 2014
National Security

In Bloody Battle, Medal Of Honor Recipient Held His Post Alone

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 6:35 pm

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At the White House today, President Obama awarded the nation's highest award for combat bravery. He presented the Medal of Honor to former Sergeant Ryan Pitts. In 2008, Pitts fought off a large Taliban force at an Afghan outpost. He did this for a time alone and wounded until the Americans could turn the tide of the battle.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As one of his teammates said, had it not been for Ryan Pitts, that post almost certainly would've been overrun.

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3:16am

Mon July 7, 2014
National Security

The Marines Are Looking For A Few Good (Combat-Ready) Women

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 9:51 am

Sgt. Jarrod Simmons speaks to his squad of Marines before they head out on a training march with 55-pound packs on Feb. 22, 2013, at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The Marines and the other military branches must open combat jobs to women in 2016. More than 160 female Marines are taking part in a grueling training program that begins this summer.
Scott Olson Getty Images

The challenge for the Marines, and for the Army, is how to open up ground combat jobs to women in January 2016, without lowering standards.

And here's where things stand in the Marines.

Eighty-five female Marines already made it through an infantry training course last fall at Camp Lejeune, N.C., which included drills such as attacking a mock enemy force, hidden in a pine forest. That course lasted eight weeks, and the men and women all completed the same training.

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4:15pm

Tue June 24, 2014
Iraq

U.S. Faces Challenges In Shoring Up Iraq's Crumbling Military

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 8:19 pm

The Iraqi army left behind equipment, including body armor and vehicles, as Sunni militants overran the northern city of Mosul earlier this month.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

Rick Brennan remembers sitting around Baghdad back in 2011 with some fellow U.S. military planners. Talk turned to the Iraqi army of the future. In one scenario, they pictured the Iraqi army falling apart, splintering along ethnic lines.

"We painted a worst-case scenario, a nightmare scenario, that was exactly what we're seeing take place right now," Brennan says.

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