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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5:20am

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 1:01 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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2:35pm

Fri July 25, 2014
Politics

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

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 5:40 pm

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

2:45am

Wed July 23, 2014
National Security

U.S. Intelligence Tracking What Happened To Flight MH17

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 5:51 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.

2:30pm

Mon July 21, 2014
National Security

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

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 4:35 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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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1:16am

Mon July 7, 2014
National Security

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

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 7:51 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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2:15pm

Tue June 24, 2014
Iraq

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

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 6:19 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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1:44pm

Mon June 23, 2014
The Two-Way

Under Attack By ISIS, Iraq Agrees To Give U.S. Troops Immunity

Iraqi Kurdish forces take position near Taza Khormato as they fight jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) positioned five kilometers away in Bashir on Monday.
Karim Sahib AFP/Getty Images

Remember last week when President Obama said he planned to send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq?

Well, the U.S. couldn't do it until the Iraqi government gave U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution, through what's called a "diplomatic note." If those U.S. soldiers committed any crimes or had any legal troubles while advising Iraqis, the U.S. wanted to handle any prosecutions.

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2:11pm

Fri June 13, 2014
Iraq

Obama Rules Out Ground Troops; What Else Can U.S. Do In Iraq?

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 4:23 pm

President Obama said that he will help the Iraqi military break the momentum of the militants on the march to Baghdad. The Pentagon said that one possible option could include airstrikes. But the president said that any military help must include political solutions from the Iraqi government, which has helped fuel the unrest by failing to reach out to its Sunni minority.

2:13pm

Tue June 10, 2014
News

Green Berets Are Killed In A Possible Case Of Friendly Fire

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 6:31 pm

Five U.S. soldiers have been killed recently in Afghanistan, the result of what might have been friendly fire from an American airplane. The deaths, if confirmed, would constitute the worst case of friendly fire in the war so far.

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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2:06pm

Mon June 9, 2014
News

Despite Details Of Bergdahl's Captivity, Answers Stay Scattered

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 4:42 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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2:55pm

Wed June 4, 2014
National Security

Despite Video Of Bergdahl's Release, Questions Dog His Capture

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 5:18 pm

Even as the Taliban released a video of Army Sgt. Bergdahl's release, questions continue to surround his initial disappearance. Bergdahl has said he was captured by the Taliban while lagging behind on a patrol. In a classified report produced in 2010, the Army paints him as a soldier troubled by U.S. policy, but it does not go so far as to call him a deserter. Still, many wonder whether Bergdahl planned to return before his capture.

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2:08pm

Wed June 4, 2014
Politics

Prisoner Swap Ignites Political Firestorm On The Hill

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 5:18 pm

Everything the Obama administration touches seems to set off a political firestorm. The latest involves Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the prisoner exchange that led to his release by the Taliban.

2:36pm

Mon June 2, 2014
National Security

As Bergdahl Returns Home, Accusations Of Desertion Surface

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 7:26 am

A member of Bowe Bergdahl's squad tells of a soldier who soured to the Afghan mission and deserted. If true, the Army would have to consider the circumstances and whether charges are warranted.

2:17pm

Tue May 27, 2014
Afghanistan

Obama Sets A Number For U.S. Troop Levels In Afghanistan

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:53 am

President Obama intends to keep a force of 9,800 American troops after the end of 2014. The troops will remain in the country in order to train Afghan forces and support counterterrorism operations. By the end of 2016, all U.S. troops would leave Afghanistan.

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

Transcript

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2:04am

Mon May 26, 2014
National Security

One Of Many: Remembering A Fallen Son On Memorial Day

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 5:20 pm

The Boelk family celebrates Christmas in 2009. This is the last family photo that was taken before their son James was killed in Afghanistan.
Courtesy of the Boelk family

Sometime on Monday, Dave and Cilicia Boelk will visit the grave of their son James, not far from their home in Manassas, Va. It's Memorial Day.

Lance Cpl. James Boelk was a Marine killed in Afghanistan in the fall of 2010. Dave Boelk admits that Memorial Day was never all that special. Like most Americans it just signaled the beginning of summer, a day of picnics and car sales.

"It really didn't mean a whole lot to me either until our son was killed, so I can't slight people for going off and having a good time," Boelk says.

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2:05pm

Thu May 15, 2014
Africa

To Help Nigeria Find Missing Girls, U.S. Sends In Airborne Support

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 6:18 pm

The U.S. has deployed surveillance aircraft to Nigeria in the search for the more than 250 schoolgirls still missing. Imagery gathered by the aircraft and satellites will be shared with the Nigerian government.

2:35pm

Tue May 13, 2014
Around the Nation

Medal Of Honor Recipient Dodged Bullets To Help Wounded Soldiers

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 5:26 pm

President Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Army Sgt. Kyle White, who saved the life of a fellow soldier, called in U.S. airstrikes and helped evacuate the wounded during a firefight with the Afghan Taliban in 2007.
AP

President Obama on Tuesday awarded the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for combat bravery, to former Army Sgt. Kyle White. Obama described how — during a firefight in Afghanistan — White single-handedly saved the life of a fellow soldier and then helped evacuate the wounded during a firefight with the Afghan Taliban.

" 'When you're deployed,' he later said, 'those people become your family. What you really care about is, I want to get this guy to the left and to the right home,' " Obama said of White.

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2:56am

Tue May 13, 2014
Middle East

Syrian Opposition Leader To Meet With White House Official

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 7:58 am

Key Syrian opposition leader Ahmed al-Jarba is expected at the White House on Tuesday to meet with National Security Advisor Susan Rice. The Syrian civil war has been raging for more than three years.

2:11pm

Fri May 9, 2014
Middle East

After Setbacks In Battle, Syrian Rebels Seek Victories In D.C.

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 6:45 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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3:56pm

Wed April 30, 2014
The Two-Way

Defense Intelligence Agency Chief Will Step Down

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 4:05 pm

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
DIA Public Affairs

The Army general who heads the Defense Intelligence Agency is leaving a year early and retiring.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but sources say he's stepping down because he's fed up with bureaucratic fights in Washington.

Flynn is expected to announce his retirement within the next week.

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