Military

Afghanistan faces the daunting prospect of a drastic reduction in foreign aid, which currently makes up about 90 percent of the country's revenue. Some have seen an economic life raft in geological surveys that indicate huge deposits of copper, iron, uranium and lithium in various parts of the country. But multinational mining firms have been slow to invest in Afghanistan — not least because of questions about stability after American troops draw down.

The case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier charged with killing 17 Afghan villagers, has led the Army to review how troops are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they have invested heavily in the treatment of PTSD to deal with a growing caseload.

But the stigma associated with the disorder continues to complicate efforts to treat it. It has also fueled serious misconceptions about its effects — such as the notion that PTSD causes acts of extreme violence.

Afghans say they're so inured to civilians killed in wars that they bury their dead and move on. That's not so easy for Muhammad Wazir. He lost his mother, his wife, a sister-in-law, a brother, a nephew, his four daughters and two of his sons in last week's mass shooting in two villages.

"My little boy, Habib Shah, is the only one left alive, and I love him very much," says Wazir.

The killings of some 16 civilians in Afghanistan on Sunday allegedly by a U.S. soldier are raising new questions about U.S. military strategy: whether the surge of American troops worked, and whether the U.S. troops have won over the Afghan people or alienated them.

The place where the killings happened was a "no-go zone" for American and even Afghan troops as recently as two years ago — it was Taliban country.

In a nondescript apartment room in Turkey, just across the border from Syria, clouds of cigarette smoke drift toward the ceiling as Syrian opposition activists ponder how to keep people and supplies moving across the border.

Abu Jafaar is the alias of a Syrian smuggler who has been dodging Syrian army patrols for the past several months.

It's one of the most serious actions the U.S. government could ever take: targeting one of its own citizens with lethal force.

Since last year, U.S. drones have killed three Americans overseas. But Attorney General Eric Holder says the ongoing fight against al-Qaida means those kinds of deadly strikes are now a way of life. And judging from the reaction to his national security speech at Northwestern University Law School on Monday, so is the hot debate over the legality of the U.S. drone program.

At the Fort Polk military base in the pine forests of central Louisiana, the Army has created a miniature version of Afghanistan — with mock villages and American soldiers working alongside Afghan role-players.

This is the training ground for a new American approach in Afghanistan as the U.S. begins to look ahead to the goal of bringing home the U.S. forces by the end of 2014. The idea is that Afghan forces have to be good enough to defend their country against the Taliban, and to make that happen, the U.S. Army is creating small U.S. training teams at Fort Polk.

The movie Act of Valor, which opened in theaters last weekend and earned nearly $25 million, was commissioned by the Navy's Special Warfare Command to drum up recruits for its elite SEALs program. But this is by no means the first movie made with the military's cooperation.

When he returned from Afghanistan and saw his partner waiting to welcome him home, "four years of pent-up emotion and secret love" just seemed to naturally lead to "what felt like an eternity kiss," Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan told NPR this afternoon.

Egypt's Press Still Feels The Power Of The Military

Feb 23, 2012

When Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power last February, many Egyptian journalists hoped for a new era of freedom of expression.

But many now say they've been disappointed. A year after the revolution, Egypt's independent media still face many challenges, mostly, but not exclusively, from the country's ruling military council.

Nineteen-year-old Army Pvt. Cody Dollman has a look in his eyes that makes you think he probably used to fight much bigger kids on the playground back home in Wichita, Kan. He says he always wanted to be a soldier — both his grandfathers served in the military — but he's the first in his family to see action overseas.

In a daring raid reminiscent of the kind used to kill Osama bin Laden, U.S. Navy SEALs swooped into Somalia Wednesday morning and rescued two aid workers, who had been held by pirates for months.

The New York Times reports the soldiers came in by helicopter and engaged in a firefight that killed nine pirates. The SEALs left with Jessica Buchanan, a 32-year-old American, and a 60-year-old Dane, Poul Thisted, who were injury free and on their way home.

Courtesy New Hampshire National Guard

Earlier this month Senior Airman Ryan Weeks of the New Hampshire National Guard stood in the honor guard that lowered the American flag in Baghdad as US forces formally concluded the mission in Iraq.

It was a year of conclusions for the New Hampshire National Guard. More than 1000 guardsmen and women returned to the state after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, some of which began in 2009.

Sara Plourde/NHPR

"If I would've finished that flight I would have come home to sell war bonds," says Herman "Herk" Streitburger of Bedford.  That last flight did not go as planned; instead, the B24 Liberator Bomber on which he served as gunner was shot down, and as he puts it, Herk became a guest of the German government for about a year.

Erik Eisele / NHPR

As of early 2010, more than 2 million US troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Larry Minear, a researcher on international and internal armed conflicts, has spent a lot of time talking to more than 175 of these veterans, many of whom came from New Hampshire and Vermont. He talked to them about what motivated them to go to war, what they did once they went over, and how they rejoined society upon their return.

Charlie Morgan will be allowed to bring her same-sex partner to a family guard event this weekend, but says it's just the first step to true equality.

A New Hampshire National Guard member will be allowed to bring her same-sex partner to a family guard event this weekend.

The Guard originally said Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan couldn’t bring her spouse, Karen Morgan, to a service designed to help returning soldiers and their families deal with the transition back to civilian life.

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