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., 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 has 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. In 2010, Bowman 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.

Pages

10:01pm

Wed January 4, 2012
National Security

Critics Question Pentagon's New Strategy

For two decades, the Pentagon has maintained that it could fight two wars at the same time. But as the Obama administration releases its new military strategy Thursday, some question whether the Pentagon will abandon that long-held commitment.

An early draft of the Pentagon's new strategy, The New York Times reported, said the military would only be able to win one war and spoil an adversary's efforts in a second war.

Read more

10:01pm

Mon January 2, 2012
Iraq

Marine Sergeant On Trial For 2005 Deaths In Iraq

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich talks to the media with his attorney Neal Puckett (left) watching on after a 2010 pretrial hearing at Camp Pendleton in California. Wuterich is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005.
Chris Carlson AP

One of the more controversial episodes of the Iraq war will be revisited in a military courtroom in California this week.

In November of 2005, a Marine squad killed 24 Iraqis, some of them women and children in the village of Haditha. Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich led the squad of Marines, and on Wednesday he'll face voluntary manslaughter charges at Camp Pendleton.

Read more

10:01pm

Mon December 26, 2011
Iraq

No U.S. Troops, But An Army Of Contractors In Iraq

As many as 5,000 private security contractors will be protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq. The U.S. Embassy compound (above) and several consulates will have about 15,000 workers, making it the largest diplomatic operation abroad.
Lucas Jackson Reuters/Landov

The U.S. troops have left Iraq, and U.S. diplomats will now be the face of America in a country that remains extremely volatile.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, along with several consulates, will have some 15,000 workers, making it the largest U.S. diplomatic operation abroad. Those diplomats will be protected by a private army consisting of as many as 5,000 security contractors who will carry assault weapons and fly armed helicopters.

Read more

8:14am

Fri December 16, 2011
Leaving Iraq

As The Iraq War Ends, Reassessing The U.S. Surge

Gen. David Petraeus (center, with no gun) walks with troops in 2007 in Baqouba, Iraq. The area had recently been seized back from al-Qaida control with help from U.S. forces who were part of the surge. The surge is widely credited with changing the course of the war; now, some experts are debating how much credit it deserves.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Here's the conventional wisdom about the U.S. troop surge in Iraq: By 2006, Iraq was in chaos. Many Americans called for the U.S. to get out. Instead, President Bush sent in 30,000 additional troops. By the end of 2007, Iraq started to stabilize, and the move took on an almost mythic status.

In 2008, for example, Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke at the Republican National Convention about the U.S. presence in Iraq, saying that, "by every measure, the surge of troops into Iraq has worked."

Read more

2:39pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Iraq

U.S. Troops (But Not Their TVs) Prepare To Leave Iraq

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 7:34 am

A day after leaving Iraq last week, U.S. Army soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division lined up their armored vehicles near Kuwait City, Kuwait. Armored equipment will not stay behind after troops leave Iraq, but other property may.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

The final American troops are set to leave Iraq in a matter of days. Just a few thousand remain, and they will be heading south toward Kuwait — the starting point for a war that began nearly nine years ago.

The last American military unit out of Iraq will be part of the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas. The division fought in some of the war's toughest battles and suffered nearly 300 killed.

Read more

10:01pm

Mon November 21, 2011
National Security

Does Supercommittee Failure Imperil Pentagon?

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 12:46 pm

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testifies on Capitol Hill on Nov. 15. He said the proposed cuts to the Pentagon budget would lead to a hollow force.
Evan Vucci AP

The congressional supercommittee's failure to act is supposed to trigger hundreds of billions of dollars in spending cuts for the Pentagon starting in 2013. But even cuts that large don't come close to cutbacks in military spending in years past.

The Pentagon already plans to cut about $500 billion from its budget over 10 years. Now, it faces another $500 billion in cuts. For the military, that's the worst case: 10 years, $1 trillion in cuts.

Read more

1:34pm

Fri November 4, 2011
'Darkhorse' Battalion And The Afghan War

For Wounded Marines, The Long, Hard Road Of Rehab

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:17 am

Lance Cpl. Jake Romo does physical therapy at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, Calif. He lost both legs in an explosion in Sangin, Afghanistan, in February 2011, while serving with the 3/5 Marines.
David Gilkey NPR

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.

Sixth of seven parts

Jake Romo loved running.

Read more

2:11pm

Tue November 1, 2011
'Darkhorse' Battalion And The Afghan War

As Casualties Mounted, So Did Marine Families' Fears

Amy Murray at home with her daughter Harper in Oceanside, Calif. Her husband, Capt. Patrick Murray, with the Darkhorse battalion, returned home from Afghanistan, in April 2011; 25 Marines from his unit did not.

David Gilkey NPR

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.

Third of seven parts

Read more

12:54pm

Sun October 30, 2011
Afghanistan

Afghan Success Comes At High Price For Commander

Originally published on Fri November 4, 2011 3:57 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

1:40pm

Wed October 26, 2011
'Darkhorse' Battalion And The Afghan War

An Afghan Hell On Earth For 'Darkhorse' Marines

Originally published on Fri November 4, 2011 3:55 pm

U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment and the Afghan National Army provide cover as they move out of a dangerous area after taking enemy sniper fire during a security patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, in November 2010. During its seven-month deployment, the 3/5 sustained the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the Afghan war, losing 25 men.

Cpl. David R. Hernandez 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.

Second of seven parts

Read more

2:09pm

Wed October 5, 2011
National Security

Gap Grows Between Military, Civilians On War

Originally published on Fri October 7, 2011 2:42 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

10:01pm

Wed September 14, 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

2:00am

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.

10:01pm

Tue August 30, 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

9:09am

Mon August 15, 2011
Closing Walter Reed

When Will Closing Walter Reed Pay Off? Maybe 2018

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 4:08 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

6:00am

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.

10:01pm

Mon August 8, 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

6:00am

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.

Pages