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.

Some 700 American troops on a long-running deployment could be in danger of an attack by extremists affiliated with the Islamic State, the Pentagon worries, but it may not be able to get them out anytime soon.

U.S. military commanders fear the soldiers deployed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and charged with keeping the peace between Egypt and Israel, are becoming an irresistible target for Islamist fighters concentrating nearby.

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Staff Sgt. Matthew McClintock died in Afghanistan this week. He was 30 and leaves a wife and infant son. McClintock was part of a training and advising mission. But he died fighting the Taliban along with Afghan troops.

American forces are increasingly being drawn back into the fight, even though President Obama declared an end to the combat mission last fall. Last year, 22 American military personnel were killed in Afghanistan, half of the deaths classified as "hostile."

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A Russian warplane shot down over the Turkish border on Tuesday crashed in an area of Syria that advocates want to protect with a no-fly zone, or even a "safe zone" — fenced off from attacks by the Syrian regime or extremist groups like the Islamic State.

President Barack Obama could be close to nominating the first-ever woman to become the head of a military combatant command, Pentagon sources tell NPR.

The U.S. military divides the world into areas of responsibility run by four-star generals and admirals, but none has ever been female. Obama wants to change that before the end of his term, Pentagon sources say, by naming a woman to take command of U.S. Northern Command, which also runs the well-known North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

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In September, the U.S. Marine Corps released a four-page summary of a yearlong study that found that all-male units were faster, more lethal and able to evacuate casualties in less time than mixed-gender units. The study, which can be viewed in full below, was bashed by critics for being biased.

NPR was able to independently obtain the full 978-page Marine Corps study. Several key findings are below.

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Russia joined the combat in Syria without coordinating its approach with the United States. Now planes from both nations are bombing targets in Syria.

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An extraordinary image at the United Nations yesterday, Vladimir Putin as peacemaker. Russia's president stood before the general assembly sounding ready to lead peace efforts in Syria.

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Hundreds of Vietnam combat helicopter pilots, their families and Gold Star families planted a tree in Arlington National Cemetery on Friday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. combat troops entering the Vietnam War.

The group called it the largest gathering of pilots, with 1,000 expected, says Bob Hesselbein, president of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot Association, which is holding a five-day meeting in Washington that ends on Saturday.

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Lance Cpl. Paula Pineda relaxes at a picnic table not far from her barracks in Camp LeJeune, N.C. She's in a crisp uniform and has a ready smile. It's one of the few breaks she's had in months — and she can finally laugh about Carl.

"Carl — our special, heavy, unique dummy," she says.

It was back in March, in the heat of the Mojave Desert in California, that Pineda — sweaty and grimy and just 5-foot-2 — struggled to help pull Carl the dummy out of her armored vehicle, along with another Marine, Julia Carroll. It was part of an exercise to rescue an injured crewman.

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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