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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National Security
4:58 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Pentagon Chief Searches For Beginning And Mid-Career Talent

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 8:26 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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National Security
5:20 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Testing The Standards: Do Gender Differences Matter For Combat?

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 8:01 pm

The man who designed the training experiment to determine if female Marines should be allowed into combat positions is not a Marine himself, but a civilian scientist. His data could also help the Marines justify their own standards for what makes a person fit for combat.

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National Security
5:08 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Can Female Marines Carry The Load And Kill The Enemy?

Sgt. Courtney White carries her machine gun before a live fire exercise at the Marine base at Twentynine Palms, Calif.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 8:00 pm

More than a dozen Marines from Alpha Company fan out across California's Mojave Desert, far into the distance. Machine-gun fire gives them cover. The small forms dash ahead. Some drop to one knee, others fall on their stomachs, firing at pop-up targets.

Only one woman is part of this group. Until last fall, Sgt. Kelly Brown was fueling helicopters and trucks. Now she's running with an assault rifle.

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Politics
5:22 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

U.S. Reconsiders Troop Withdrawal Plan In Afghanistan

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 12:40 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And we're going to talk more now about the decision to keep about 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of this year. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman is here in the studio.

Welcome, Tom.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

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National Security
3:24 am
Thu March 19, 2015

As Women Try Out For Armor Units, 'If You Can Hack It, You Can Hack It'

Lance Cpl. Brittany Dunklee talks with her fellow Marines.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 5:03 pm

It's a recent morning out in California's Mojave Desert, and Marine Lance Cpls. Paula Pineda and Julia Carroll are struggling to pick up and maneuver Carl. He's a 220-pound dummy, and a stand-in for a wounded Marine.

Carroll's knees buckle for a moment, but as a dusty wind picks up, the two women pull Carl off their light armored vehicle. They carry him to safety, careful not to let his head drag on the rocky ground.

Both women are out of breath.

Pineda is 5 foot 2. On the back of her helmet is a piece of masking tape with the words "Mad Max."

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National Security
3:22 am
Tue March 17, 2015

In Intense Desert Training, Marine Women Fight For Place On Front Lines

Female and male Marines prepare for a live-fire exercise at Twentynine Palms, a training camp in the Mojave Desert.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 5:03 pm

In the dry and craggy hills of California's Mojave Desert, Capt. Ray Kaster tries to shout over the din of a machine gun to be heard by Alpha Company, the unit of Marines he's working with during a month of rigorous instruction at Twentynine Palms training center.

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Iraq
5:38 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Advised By Iran's Military, Iraqi Forces Launch Effort To Retake Tikrit

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 12:19 pm

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The Two-Way
12:27 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

U.S. Classifies Some Basic Statistics About Afghan Security Forces

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 12:35 pm

The American command in Afghanistan has for the first time in six years classified detailed statistics about the Afghan security forces — everything from equipment and training to attrition.

Gen. John Campbell, who is leading the NATO coalition's non-combat mission in Afghanistan, said he now considers all that sensitive operational information that could help the Taliban.

Campbell said he decided to classify details about the Afghan forces because they could be used by insurgent fighters to threaten both Afghan and U.S. forces.

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National Security
12:44 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Senate Panel's Report On CIA Calls Harsh Tactics Ineffective

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

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National Security
6:17 am
Tue November 25, 2014

White House To Find Successor To Defense Secretary Hagel

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 8:02 am

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

U.S.
10:29 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Secretary Of Defense Hagel To Resign

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

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

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Back At Base
3:42 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Combat Training: Can Female Marines Get The Job Done?

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

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

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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Health
5:00 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Pentagon's Ebola Monitoring Policy For Soldiers Under Review

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 8:12 am

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

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Afghanistan
4:50 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

With New Security Agreement, U.S. Mission In Afghanistan Continues

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 6:14 pm

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Middle East
5:43 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Second Round Of Airstrikes In Syria Target Oil Assets

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

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Iraq
4:06 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

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

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

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

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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National Security
7:45 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

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

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

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

The Two-Way
3:44 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

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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National Security
5:00 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

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

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 7:18 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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Around the Nation
4:35 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Medal Of Honor Recipient Dodged Bullets To Help Wounded Soldiers

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

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 7:26 pm

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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Middle East
5:20 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Syrian Opposition Leader To Meet With White House Official

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 9:58 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.

The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Defense Intelligence Agency Chief Will Step Down

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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National Security
3:52 am
Fri April 11, 2014

What's The Right Size For The U.S. Army?

As the U.S. winds down the Afghan war, the government is eyeing a much reduced military force — to its lowest level since World War II. Here, soldiers from the U.S. Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, salute during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" during a homecoming ceremony Feb. 27 in Fort Knox, Ky.
Luke Sharrett Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 1:14 pm

With the U.S. military out of Iraq and winding down in Afghanistan, the U.S. Army, which peaked with a force of around 570,000 a few years ago, was supposed to drop to around 490,000 troops.

But U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that's still too big.

"An Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defense strategy," Hagel told a news conference in February.

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Around the Nation
5:05 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Air Force To Release Results Of Cheating Probe

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 12:18 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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News
4:09 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

General Takes Plea Deal In Sexual Assault Case

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 6:33 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Today, a plea deal in the most closely watched sexual assault case in the military. An Army general admitted to charges of mistreating a subordinate and adultery. But Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair will not face more serious charges. That's because the Army's case against him fell apart. We're going to hear more about what happened now from NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman. Hi, Tom.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Hello, Robert.

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Around the Nation
5:05 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Pentagon Officials To Outline Defense Budget Priorities

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 7:34 am

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will outline budget priorities during a news conference on Monday. A key question for the Pentagon: How to curb growth of military pay and benefits?

National Security
5:16 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Hagel Concerned By Ethical Lapses In Armed Forces

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:59 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The American military is trying to get to the bottom of a series of scandals. Air Force nuclear missile officers cheated on tests, Navy sailors are accused of the same, and more - enough that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is concerned that there's a pattern here, a problem with ethical lapses across the armed services. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman joins us now to talk about this. Good morning.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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National Security
5:30 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

A Medal Of Valor, 30 Years In Coming

In 1984, an American Army unit engaged in this firefight as it shielded a Soviet defector who made a break across the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Thirty years after the battle, American soldier Mark Deville has finally received a Silver Star for bravery.
Courtesy of Mark Deville

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 6:26 pm

The year is 1984: A Soviet defector dashes across the Korean border — chased by North Korean troops. American troops shield him and open fire on the North Koreans. There are dead and wounded on both sides.

Now, 30 years later, one of those Americans is finally receiving his medal for bravery.

Mark Deville was just 19 on that November day in 1984, part of an American Army unit patrolling the tense border between North and South Korea.

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The Two-Way
2:26 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Gen. Dempsey: Better To Get Others To Solve Their Own Problems

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talking to U.S. military personnel in Tokyo last April.
Kyodo/Landov

On Morning Edition, NPR's Tom Bowman profiled Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey, as Tom reported, says the U.S. public, and even its leaders, know little about how military power can be used. The disconnect is most glaring when comes to this: What can the U.S. military achieve in places like Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria?

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National Security
4:51 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Chairman Of Joint Chiefs Warns Of Disconnect With Military

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 1:39 pm

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey says the U.S. public, and even its leaders, know little about how military power can be used. He says the disconnect is most glaring when comes to this: What can the U.S. military achieve in places like Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria?

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