Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 12:43 pm
Three years after the U.S. military officially withdrew from Iraq, 2,000 U.S. troops are back. They're restoring the old buildings they'd left behind and renewing contacts with Iraqi officers they knew before.
They're also taking incoming rocket fire at their bases.
This week began an ambitious training program to put 5,000 Iraqi soldiers through boot camp every six weeks.
Let me set the stage a little: A movie called "The Imitation Game" will be released nationwide Christmas day, the latest of several attempts to tell the story of Alan Turing. That story is so big, it can only be told in little pieces.
The piece most people focus on is Turing's work as the single most important code breaker in World War 2, the man who built a machine that broke apart the deeply encrypted Nazi code, and then gave the Allies an advantage that they were forced to conceal.
On Tuesday, I attended the Wethersfield Veteran's Day Ceremony at town hall. Among the many veterans in attendance, I had the chance to talk with Herb Philbrick, 97, who served in the Navy during World War II. Philbrick was a Chief Machinist Mate, and among his many memories of serving his country, he clearly remembers watching the battle of Iwo Jima, including the now iconic raising of the American Flag on Mount Surabachi from his ship, the U.S.S. Oceanus.
Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 7:57 am
"I am a United States Army General, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism."
Those are the frank opening words of a new book by retired Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger, Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Bolger continues:
"It's like Alcoholics Anonymous. Step one is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. So do my peers. And thanks to our problem, now all of America has a problem. To wit: two lost campaigns and a war gone awry."
Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 3:58 pm
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." This is the first installment of the ongoing series.
Even 10 years after the battle for Fallujah, it's hard for Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Torain Kelley to talk about some things that happened.
"We had people shooting at us from up [on] the rooftops, from the houses, from the sewers or wherever they could take a shot at us from," he says.
Speaking Tuesday on WNPR's Where We Live, Rami Nakhla, a noted Syrian peace activist, said the Syrian Civil War started as a pro-democracy uprising, but has since changed, facilitating the rise of groups like the so-called Islamic State.
A new PBS FRONTLINE documentary explores "The Rise of ISIS." Producer and reporter Martin Smith joins us to talk about his reporting from Iraq, chronicling the conditions that allowed for the so-called Islamic State to become so powerful. He was also on the ground when U.S. airstrikes began this summer.
We also check in with Senator Chris Murphy, who has been a vocal opponent to U.S. military intervention in the crisis, and with a Syrian peace activist who is a part of the Yale World Fellows program.
Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 1:17 pm
At a checkpoint outside the northern Iraq town of Makhmur, I saw something I'd never seen before in Iraq.
Two men were checking cars. One was young and wearing a sand-colored uniform of the official Iraqi Kurdish forces, called the peshmerga. The other was older, grizzled and dressed in an olive-green, traditional Kurdish overall, and he's with Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"We're happy to be working together," said the older man, Hajji Hussein Abdulrahman.
Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 1:52 pm
Nigeria's army has reportedly reached a cease-fire deal with the extremist group Boko Haram that could lead to the release of more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted in April and whose release quickly became an international cause.
According to NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Nigeria's official news agency is quoting the country's defense chief, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, as saying a truce has been reached. Badeh announced the truce and ordered his troops to immediately comply with the agreement, according to The Associated Press.
Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 4:06 pm
The besieged city of Kobani, Syria, has seen an increase in air strikes and fighting, with Kurdish fighters in the area saying they've stopped the extremist group ISIS from advancing. As the U.S.-led coalition carried out strikes on areas east and south of Kobani, new reports emerged about Turkey's role in supporting the fight against ISIS.
Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 10:27 am
Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET
A United Nations report out today lists what it describes as a "staggering array" of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq, including mass executions, the kidnapping of women and girls to use as sex slaves and the use of child soldiers.
It also points to shelling and airstrikes by Iraqi security forces that killed civilians and "may have violated the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law."
Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 3:23 pm
Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET
The British Parliament has voted to approve the U.K.'s participation in U.S.-led airstrikes against the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq after Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs that the extremists pose a "clear and proven" threat to British lives.
The 524-to-43 vote in Parliament came after a lengthy debate that followed the latest U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on targets of the hard-line Islamist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. The strikes hit oil installations for a second consecutive day.
Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 11:13 am
Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET
The U.S. and some of its Arab coalition partners have conducted another round of airstrikes in Syria, hitting oil refineries that have fallen into the hands of Islamic State militants, who officials say are funding themselves with the petroleum revenues.
The Pentagon says 13 airstrikes hit a dozen "modular" oil refineries in eastern Syria. The refineries are thought to produce $2 million worth of refined petroleum each day for the self-declared Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 7:29 pm
Update at 6:50 p.m. ET
U.S. officials have confirmed that a new round of airstrikes in Syria is ongoing, NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman told All Things Considered.
"We know some of the targets are oil assets, oil wells being controlled by the Islamic State. There's not a lot of detail at this time ... but it's likely around the Raqqah area, which is sort of [the Islamic State's] de facto headquarters.
Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 10:55 pm
The United States and its allies expanded their assault against the Islamic State on Monday, striking targets inside Syria for the first time, the Pentagon said.
In a statement, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the U.S. had used "a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles."
Kirby said that because these strikes are ongoing, he could not go into details about where in Syria the allies were attacking. But a Pentagon official tells NPR's Tom Bowman that the strikes occurred near Raqqah, an Islamic State stronghold.
Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 10:17 am
Updated at 7:35 a.m. ET
Kurdish fighters claim to have halted an advance by self-described Islamic State militants in an area of the Turkish-Syria border region that has seen masses of refugees fleeing the fighting in recent days.
Connecticut Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal split their votes on legislation authorizing the U.S. military to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels fighting the so-called Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL.
Four of Connecticut’s five members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday against President’s Obama’s plan to help arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in their fight against the extremist group known as the Islamic State. The measure was approved by the House by a vote of 273 to 156.
Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 2:13 pm
President Obama reiterated that he will not commit U.S. troops to fight another ground war in Iraq, adding that U.S. airstrikes, combined with expertise, would be more effective in defeating the group that calls itself the Islamic State.
"As your commander in chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq," Obama said at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 4:01 pm
The United States has begun its first-ever airstrikes in direct support of Iraqi ground forces, in the opening move of what could be a protracted fight against so-called Islamic State militants in the region.
NPR's Tom Bowman, on Morning Edition, says the airstrikes, south of Baghdad, targeted an Islamic State position after Iraqi soldiers fighting them requested the assistance.
Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 9:43 am
President Obama on Monday awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor, to two soldiers who served in Vietnam: Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, who survived a harrowing battle and 18 body wounds; and Army Spc. 4 Donald P. Sloat, whose dying act saved his fellow soldiers.
In January 1970, President Obama said Monday, Sloat was on patrol with his squad in Vietnam.