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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They are called Predators. The larger ones are named Reapers.

For the past twenty years the U.S. drones have circled the skies over Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Africa, and now Syria. Sometimes they provide constant surveillance — sending back live video. Mostly they unleash missiles into terrorist compounds.

Now the officer in charge of the Air Combat Command, Gen. Herbert Hawk Carlisle, who flew fighter and cargo aircraft, says its time to give those drone pilots a rest.

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The Pentagon says it will increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by 100, in an effort to create a special operations targeting force that will seek out and kill ISIS leaders, rescue hostages and gather intelligence. And for the first time, officials have acknowledged that some of these troops will engage in raids that amount to combat operations.

The U.S. already has some 3,500 troops in Iraq, mostly working as advisers and trainers for the country's security forces.

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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.

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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. The current commander of NorthCom is also the commander of the well-known North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

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NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman is going to talk to us now about the current military operation in Sinjar. And Tom, to begin, what's the U.S. strategy in taking this area around Mt. Sinjar?

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