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., and thrived amid the deadlines, the competition, and the personalities both at a newspaper and in the political realm. Bowman 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.

Over his career, Bowman has been honored with several awards for news writing and features, from the New England Press Association and the Maryland Press Association. He is also 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, Bowman 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
3:24 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Marines: Most Female Recruits Don't Meet New Pullup Standard

Female Marine recruits train on the rifle range during boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., on Feb. 25. The Marine Corps said it has postponed new physical standards that would require women to do three pullups, noting that many female recruits were not yet able to do so.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 8:06 am

Starting Jan. 1, every woman in the Marines Corps was supposed to meet a new physical standard by performing three pullups. But that has been put off.

The Marine Corps announced it quietly. There was no news conference — just a notice on its social media sites and an item on its own TV show, The Corps Report.

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Parallels
3:17 am
Thu December 5, 2013

China's Military Buildup Reignites Worries In Asia, Beyond

Chinese naval soldiers stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning as it travels toward a military base in Sanya, Hainan province, in this undated picture made available on Nov. 30.
China Stringer Network Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 12:18 pm

China has been building up its military strength for some time now, and pushing ever farther from its coastline and into international waters. The real concern now is for miscalculation — particularly with Japan — that ends up in gunfire.

Just six months ago, the Pentagon released its annual report on China's military. Its defense budget was growing. The country was building more stealthy aircraft and submarines. It even bought an aircraft carrier from the Ukraine.

Pentagon official David Helvey highlighted particular areas of concern.

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Afghanistan
4:02 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

When Most U.S. Forces Leave Afghanistan, Contractors May Stay

A helicopter from the American security contractor DynCorp provides air support as members of an Afghan eradication force plow opium poppies on April 3, 2006, in the Helmand province, Afghanistan.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 4:35 pm

Should the Afghan government sign a security agreement, the U.S. plans to keep between 6,000 and 9,000 American troops in Afghanistan even after the U.S. and NATO's combat mission officially ends late in 2014.

Beginning in 2015, the remaining troops would train Afghan soldiers and mount operations against any remnants of al-Qaida.

But they wouldn't be the only ones who stay behind: U.S. troops would almost certainly be outnumbered by civilian contractors.

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National Security
4:45 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Women Pass Marine Training, Clear First Hurdle To Combat Role

Pfc. Katie Gorz (center) served as a squad leader during the training at Camp Geiger, N.C.
Tom Bowman NPR

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:54 pm

More than 200 Marines have been training since late September in the pine forests of North Carolina. They've been hiking for miles carrying 87-pound packs and assault rifles, sleeping in the field, attacking mock enemy positions.

And for the first time, women took part in the training. Three of them made it to the end and graduated Thursday morning.

They were there at Camp Geiger to answer the question of whether women have what it takes to become combat infantry Marines.

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Afghanistan
5:54 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Afghan Elders Will Decide Future Of U.S. Troops After 2014

Some 3,000 Afghan elders will assemble on Thursday in Kabul to consider a new security agreement with the U.S. The document will spell out the rules for American forces in Afghanistan troops after their combat mission ends in December 2014. U.S. officials say between 6,000 and 9,000 US troops would remain to train Afghan security forces and conduct counter-terror missions against al-Qaeda and other anti-government forces. That counter-terror mission remains a sticking point, though most other issues — like potential criminal liability of Americans in Afghanistan — have been resolved.

Asia
5:07 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

UN Report Puts Afghan Opium Poppy Cultivation At Record High

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 8:01 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

The poppy crop in Afghanistan has hit record levels, a sign that the drug trade there continues to rise. That's according to the latest numbers from a United Nations report out today. The U.S. warns that a boost in opium production will provide more money for Taliban insurgents.

As NPR's Tom Bowman reports, those rising numbers come despite billions of dollars spent to eradicate the poppy plant.

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National Security
7:34 am
Sun November 10, 2013

Why Does The NSA Keep An EGOTISTICALGIRAFFE? It's Top Secret

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 12:54 pm

What do the following words have in common?

SHARKFINN
KEYSTONE
DISHFIRE
TWISTEDPATH

The answer? They're all NSA code words.

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor, leaked thousands of documents about some of the most secretive programs run by the U.S. government. So secret, they're all given classified names.

You may have heard of PRISM, the name of the secret NSA program that vacuums up Internet communications. Turns out just about everything else at the world's biggest spy agency has its own code word.

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Asia
5:51 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Pakistani Taliban Leader Believed Dead In U.S. Drone Strike

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 6:49 pm

The leader of the Pakistani Taliban is reported to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike. Hakimullah Mehsud's group is believed responsible for attacks across Pakistan. He is also implicated in the attack that killed seven CIA employees at a CIA base in Afghanistan in late 2009. Mehsud has been reported to have been killed before, but sources are confident this time.

Parallels
4:00 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Case Of Marines Desecrating Taliban Bodies Takes A New Twist

A still frame taken from a YouTube video shows Marines who were later disciplined for desecrating three dead Taliban members in a 2011 incident in the southern Afghan province of Helmand.
YouTube

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 11:43 am

In a case that caused a major stir last year, a YouTube video surfaced showing Marines in Afghanistan joking and laughing as they urinated on three dead Taliban fighters. The Marines involved in the July 2011 incident in the southern province of Helmand were disciplined.

It seemed the case was over, but now it has taken a strange twist. There are allegations that the Marines' top officer, Gen. James Amos, illegally interfered with the judicial proceedings in an effort to ensure harsher penalties.

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Middle East
5:05 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

In Afghanistan, An Uncertain Role For U.S. After 2014

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 7:55 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Another fighting season is coming to an end in Afghanistan and American and Afghan leaders are trying to determine whether U.S. troops will remain beyond the next fighting season in 2014. Over the next few weeks, Afghan tribal leaders will sit down and debate whether to support a new security agreement with the Americans.

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U.S.
5:35 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Women Break New Ground In Marine Infantry Training

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 6:53 am

Female Marines have been training for the past month at Camp Lejeune, trying to make it through infantry training. They've got a month to go, including a 12-mile hike with a heavy pack. They're the first ones ever to handle the training, part of an effort to integrate women into combat positions by 2016.

National Security
4:44 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Foundation To Pay Military Death Benefits During Shutdown

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 7:39 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On a Thursday, this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The remains of four American service members were returned yesterday to Dover Air Force Base. They were killed in Afghanistan.

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Middle East
4:37 am
Tue October 8, 2013

For Now, No War Crimes Charges Against Syrian Regime

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 8:26 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

Syria's chemical weapons are very far from being removed, but authorities say they've made a start. Secretary of State John Kerry says he's pleased with the pace of what has happened so far.

Last night, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon laid out a plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons program by the end of next June.

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The Two-Way
2:02 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Officials Detail Shutdown's Chilling Effect On National Security

National Intelligence Director James Clapper waits for a hearing of the Senate Judiciary on Wednesday.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 5:42 pm

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told Congress this week that the partial federal government shutdown has forced the furlough of some 70 percent of employees throughout the intelligence community.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Clapper, a 50-year veteran of intelligence work.

So what impact is all this having on the spy world?

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Around the Nation
6:03 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

FBI Releases New Images, Info From Navy Yard Shooting

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The FBI offered up more evidence today about the Washington Navy Yard shooting last week in which 12 people were killed, along with the shooter. They released surveillance videotape of the gunman, Aaron Alexis, inside the building. They also confirmed that Alexis acted alone and that he was delusional. NPR's Tom Bowman has more.

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Around the Nation
5:34 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Navy Yard Shooting Raises Question Of Security Adequacy

The investigation continues into the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. Authorities are trying to learn more about the shooter, Aaron Alexis. He received an honorable discharge from the Navy even after displaying a pattern of misconduct that included incidents involving guns. And members of Congress are asking whether security at the Navy Yard was adequate.

Middle East
4:26 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Diplomatic Solution In Syria Is Rife With Complications

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 7:54 am

Diplomats continue to consider a Russian plan to get Syria to hand over its chemical weapons to international control. If nations can agree on the details, the plan could avert a U.S. strike against Syrian targets. But accounting for and destroying Syria's chemical arsenal is a complicated undertaking.

NPR Story
4:46 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Obama Considers Training Options For Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 6:42 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

President Obama has promised limited military action against Syria. He says missile strikes are not about regime change and there will be no boots on the ground. But even as the Congress debates the president's plans for action, the White House is looking at broader options.

NPR's Tom Bowman reports the president may call on the U.S. military to help build up the Syrian opposition.

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Middle East
4:55 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

More Than 400 Children Among Those Killed In Syrian Attack

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 7:01 pm

The U.S. intelligence community has released its declassified analysis of the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria. The analysis concludes that Syria's government is likely responsible for the attack, which, it says, killed some 1,400 people.

Parallels
3:33 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Egypt's Top General And His U.S. Lessons In Democracy

Downtown Cairo is plastered with huge posters of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the U.S.-trained Egyptian army chief who helped overthrow President Mohammed Morsi.
Amr Abdallah Dalsh Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 6:56 pm

Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the man at the center of the military takeover in Egypt, is the latest in a series of American-trained foreign officers to oust a civilian government.

Just seven years ago, he was a student at the Army War College in rural Pennsylvania. At a recent military graduation ceremony in Alexandria, Egypt, el-Sissi talked about his ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on July 3.

The army was forced to take that step, the general said, in the wake of mass protests against the elected government.

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