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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Iraq
2:50 pm
Wed May 27, 2015

Iraqi Forces Prepare To Reclaim Ramadi From Islamic State

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 5:11 pm

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

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Parallels
11:54 am
Thu May 21, 2015

He Calmed Kandahar. But At What Cost?

Lt. Gen. Abdul Raziq is the police chief widely credited with bringing much greater security to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. But critics accuse him of human rights abuses including torture and extrajudicial killings.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 5:07 pm

The southern Afghan city of Kandahar was the birthplace of the Taliban and has long been considered one the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan.

But the city has grown peaceful in recent years, and much of the credit has been given to an American ally: Lt. Gen. Abdul Raziq, the provincial police chief.

On a recent day, the most feared man in Kandahar is slumped in a cheap blue plastic chair on a wide patio. He's slight and wiry, with a shy smile. He could be mistaken for a security guard at this palatial home of marble and chandeliers.

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National Security
2:30 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Fall Of Ramadi Sparks New Criticism Over U.S. Strategy In Iraq

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 5:06 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We're joined now by NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman. And Tom, we just heard in Alice's report that Shiite militias are the units looking to help retake the city of Ramadi. Is that something the U.S. government would support?

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Iraq
2:58 am
Mon May 18, 2015

ISIS Takes Control Of Ramadi, Key Iraqi City

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 7:00 am

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

Politics
3:42 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Top Veterans Affairs Official Says Agency Skirts Federal Purchasing Laws

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 7:35 pm

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

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The VA will have to answer more tough questions. Today, one of its senior procurement officers accused the agency of a lack of oversight and even fraud, resulting in millions of dollars of waste.

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Parallels
1:57 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Afghan Army Makes Progress; Will Government Services Follow?

Brig. Gen. Akram Samme coordinates his men at Camp Eagle in the Shah Joy district of Zabul province in southern Afghanistan. He is a commander in the major operation against the Taliban that's currently under way.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 10:43 am

Fuel trucks, cargo trucks and buses zip north along Highway One toward Kabul, just like any other morning. They seem not to notice what's above them on a vast desert plateau that overlooks the highway in Zabul province in southern Afghanistan.

Dozens of soldiers and police mill about, awaiting orders. There are armored vehicles, towed artillery, an ambulance and a long line of Humvees. Each one has a massive Afghan flag snapping in the breeze, like banners from some ancient army.

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Parallels
1:25 am
Thu April 30, 2015

The Frightened Vietnamese Kid Who Became A U.S. Army General

Brig. Gen. Viet Luong of the 1st Cavalry Division came to the United States in the 1970s after his family fled Vietnam in the waning days of the war there. He's now leading the effort to train Afghan soldiers to fight the Taliban.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 9:07 am

Brig. Gen. Viet Luong sits on a case of MREs, the soldiers' daily meals. He's inside a cavernous hanger at an Afghan army base outside the southern city of Kandahar.

A couple dozen American and Australian soldiers lounge on green cots lining the sides. Banners of U.S. military units hang on the walls. Between the troops is a 6-foot-tall shipment of Girl Scout cookies.

Luong's job is to train the Afghan military to fight a guerrilla force, the Taliban. But he's willing to talk about another guerrilla war, long ago.

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Parallels
1:53 am
Tue April 28, 2015

On Its Own, The Afghan Army Takes The Fight To The Taliban

An artillery gun fires a round at Taliban fighters in the hills of Nangahar Province.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 11:48 am

The call comes into the Afghan battalion headquarters, a small concrete building that once housed American Green Berets. The Taliban are attacking a police checkpoint under construction in the foothills of Nangahar Province in eastern Afghanistan, a short distance from the border with Pakistan.

The Afghan soldiers gather in a line, lifting their palms and praying for a safe mission. They hop in their trucks and head up a winding dirt road. The unfinished checkpoint can be seen in the hazy distance.

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Parallels
9:42 am
Mon April 27, 2015

With The U.S. In The Background, Afghan Commandos Step It Up

Afghan commandos move through a smokescreen during a training exercise at Camp Commando on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 4:40 am

With the U.S. combat role over in Afghanistan, the country's security now depends on men like Sgt. Maj. Faiz Mohammed Wafa, one of the leaders of the Afghan commandos.

On this day, the Afghan sergeant is screaming at trainees at Camp Commando, a training center built by the Americans in the hills south of Kabul. Two dozen trainees are seated in the dirt in full combat gear. Wafa is trying to teach them the proper way to clear a house, searching room to room for insurgents.

"I told you 10 times," he says. "Hold your weapons correctly!"

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World
3:39 pm
Sat April 18, 2015

Suicide Blast Kills More Than 30 In Afghanistan

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 4:25 pm

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

Afghanistan
3:06 am
Thu April 16, 2015

Kabul Appears To Be More Tense Since U.S. Troop Drawdown

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 10:17 am

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The Two-Way
3:59 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Biden Says ISIS 'No Longer On The Move' In Iraq

Vice President Biden delivers remarks on U.S. policy in Iraq at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 4:34 pm

Vice President Joe Biden says that the self-proclaimed Islamic State is no longer on the move in Iraq.

"The jury's still out, but the momentum is in the right direction," Biden said in a speech at National Defense University in Washington, in advance of a visit next week by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Biden laid out the destructive path of ISIS — also called ISIL — citing the collapse of the Iraqi Army, the fall of Mosul and the "slaughter" and "ethnic cleansing" that followed.

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National Security
3:03 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Testing The Standards: Do Gender Differences Matter For Combat?

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 6:01 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
2:39 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 Thu May 28, 2015 4:10 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
3:22 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

U.S. Reconsiders Troop Withdrawal Plan In Afghanistan

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 10:40 am

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

Transcript

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
1:24 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 3:03 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
1:22 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 3:03 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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World
2:38 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Islamic State Fighters Hold Tikrit As Military Assault Enters Second Week

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 6:07 pm

Islamic State fighters are mounting stiff resistance in Tikrit, Iraq, as Iraqi troops and Shiite militias, some of them backed by the Iranian government, join in on the assault on the city. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, was in Baghdad as the Pentagon backed away from plans to take the city of Mosul, Iraq, from Islamic State militants.

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Law
2:10 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Petraeus Agrees To Plead Guilty To Improperly Handling Classified Information

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 4:25 pm

In 2011, retired Gen. David Petraeus allegedly gave several books with classified information to his biographer Paula Broadwell, with whom he was having an affair. He later was forced to resign as CIA director.

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

Iraq
3:38 am
Tue March 3, 2015

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

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 10:19 am

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

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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National Security
2:38 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Up First For Secretary Of Defense Ash Carter: Afghanistan And ISIS

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 4:40 pm

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

Middle East
2:09 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Despite Coalition Partners, U.S. Has Done Most Airstrikes Against ISIS

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 12:24 pm

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

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Two-Way
10:35 am
Thu January 29, 2015

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

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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Middle East
2:10 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

How A Single Town In Syria Became A Symbol Of The War Against ISIS

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:23 pm

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

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Middle East
2:24 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Yemen In Chaos Amid Reports Of Government's Collapse

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 7:27 pm

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

Iraq
2:46 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Hundreds Of U.S. Military Trainers Headed For Iraq

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 5:34 pm

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

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Parallels
2:36 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

After Years Of Conflict, U.S. Mission Shifts In Afghanistan

U.S. Gen. John Campbell (left) and Command Sgt. Maj. Delbert Byers open the Operation Resolute Support flag during a ceremony at the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday.
Massoud Hossaini AP

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 4:01 pm

On this last day of 2014, America's troops in Afghanistan are still a combat force.

On Thursday, their mission changes.

"We will be ending our combat mission in Afghanistan, obviously because of the extraordinary service of the men and women in the American armed forces," President Obama said during a recent visit with Marines and their families in Hawaii.

But there will still be more than 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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National Security
2:35 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

CIA Director Disputes Findings Of Senate Interrogation Report

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 4:39 pm

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

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National Security
10:43 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Senate Panel's Report On CIA Calls Harsh Tactics Ineffective

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 3:16 pm

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

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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National Security
2:39 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

New Details Emerge In Failed Yemen Hostage Rescue

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 8:49 am

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

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