Tom Bowman

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There was a time when the Pentagon went to the private sector for the latest technology. Now Defense Secretary Ash Carter is looking to high-tech companies for insights on something else - recruiting and retaining women. NPR's Tom Bowman has more.

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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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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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