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
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

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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

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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

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National Security
4:17 am
Tue November 25, 2014

White House To Find Successor To Defense Secretary Hagel

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 6:02 am

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U.S.
8:29 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Secretary Of Defense Hagel To Resign

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 11:02 am

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Back At Base
1:42 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 7:46 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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Iraq
2:23 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

White House Will Send 1,500 Military Personnel To Iraq

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 6:11 pm

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History
2:23 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Civil War Veteran Awarded Medal Of Honor, 150 Years Later

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 4:33 pm

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Pres. Obama awarded the Medal of Honor today to a soldier who stayed at his post under withering fire 151 years ago. Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing was just 22, commanding an artillery battery during the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

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Parallels
2:46 am
Thu October 30, 2014

With Limited Gains, U.S. Bombing Campaign Faces Growing Criticism

Iraqi soldiers walk in Jurf al-Sakhr, south of the capital Baghdad, on Monday after Iraqi military forces retook the area from Islamic State militants. Iraqi forces, supported by U.S. airstrikes, have made limited gains in recent months, but critics are questioning whether the U.S. strategy is likely to succeed.
Haidar Mohammed Ali AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 12:25 pm

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been on the defensive recently about the strategy to take on the Islamic State. American warplanes have been bombing targets in Iraq and Syria, but militant fighters are still on the move.

"We have made it very clear, I have and President Obama has, that this is a long, difficult effort," Hagel said.

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Health
3:00 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Pentagon's Ebola Monitoring Policy For Soldiers Under Review

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 6:12 am

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Middle East
2:03 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Judging Effectiveness Of Airstrikes Against ISIS Remains Challenging

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 4:41 pm

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Middle East
2:58 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Judging Effectivenes Of Airstrikes Against ISIS Remains A Challenge

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 7:58 am

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Afghanistan
2:50 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

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

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 4:14 pm

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Middle East
3:43 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Second Round Of Airstrikes In Syria Target Oil Assets

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 1:29 pm

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Middle East
2:32 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Syria Airstrikes Targeted Command Sites, Training Facilities

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 1:30 pm

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Middle East
4:32 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Islamic State Targets Hit In Syria, Pentagon Says

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 11:20 am

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Middle East
2:16 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

What Does 'Boots On The Ground' Really Mean?

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 4:08 pm

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Hundreds of U.S. military advisers will be assisting and training Iraqi forces as part of the battle against ISIS. President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel were clear about what they will not do.

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World
2:42 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Hagel, Dempsey Defend Obama's Strategy For Fighting ISIS

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 3:33 pm

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the Obama administration's new strategy to fight the group called the Islamic State. The two officials were testifying before a Senate committee and were questioned on key aspects of the strategy, including whether a more U.S. troops might be needed on the ground in Iraq.

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Iraq
4:40 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Far From The Battlefield, U.S. Troops Will Assist Iraqi Forces

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 11:03 am

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U.S.
2:45 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

With Drones In Flight Over Syria, Questions Of Airstrikes Rise With Them

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 5:28 pm

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Iraq
2:06 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 10:21 am

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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Iraq
4:21 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Obama Authorizes Targeted Strikes In Iraq

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 9:15 am

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Afghanistan
4:18 am
Wed August 6, 2014

During His First Combat Deployment, U.S. General Is Killed

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 6:02 am

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National Security
5:45 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

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

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 7:46 am

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Middle East
5:20 am
Tue July 29, 2014

For Two Years, He Smuggled Photos Of Torture Victims Out Of Syria

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

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 1:01 pm

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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Politics
2:45 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

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

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

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National Security
2:45 am
Wed July 23, 2014

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.

National Security
2:58 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

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

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

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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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National Security
1:16 am
Mon July 7, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 7:51 am

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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Iraq
2:15 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

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

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

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

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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