Mark Thompson

Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Thompson has covered national security in Washington since 1979, and for Time since 1994. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkThompson_DC

Articles from Contributor

Battleland Battleland

Navy Fires Third C.O. — This Week!


The Navy is on a tear: it has just relieved its third commanding officer this week. That makes 10 so far this year, putting it well ahead of 2010, when 17 were canned over the entire year. The latest man overboard (the ninth, in fact, was a woman, relieved last Saturday) is Commander Jay Wylie, captain of the destroyer …

Battleland Battleland

Meet The New Boss. Same As The Old Boss.


I remember when Harold Brown was Jimmy Carter’s defense secretary. Heck, I remember when Bob McNamara was JFK’s defense secretary, so let me rephrase that: I covered Harold Brown as Jimmy Carter’s defense secretary.

There’s been a flurry of reports over the last couple of days about how the shift of Leon …

Battleland Battleland

Illuminating Kabul

U.S. cities like San Diego are debating the wisdom of putting solar-powered street lights along their roads. Heck — that’s already happening in…Kabul, Afghanistan? You bet. In fact, Colonel Thomas Magness IV, the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan, was raving about them Thursday:

There is no reliable

Battleland Battleland

Skunk at the Garden Party, Sir!

Retired Army colonel Douglas Macgregor has always been a bomb-thrower. His 1997 book on the future of the U.S. Army, Breaking the Phalanx, was equally loved and hated by those inside the service. An innovative battle tactician who some saw as arrogant, he’s one of those guys who colors just a little too much outside the lines for the …

Battleland Battleland

CBO Defense Option #5

The Congressional Budget Office says killing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in favor of buying more F-16s and F-18s would save $26.9 billion in outlays over the next five years. The F-35 is the biggest Pentagon procurement program in history, slated to buy some 2,500 planes for $382 billion over the next 25 years or so.

Battleland Battleland

Purple Heart Clarity

Troops suffering from traumatic brain injury — one of the signature wounds of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — have long been eligible for the Purple Heart. But now the Pentagon is clarifying the rules:

Battleland Battleland

Sgt. Castro Comes Home Today

Insurgents killed Army Sgt. John Paul Castro April 22 in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. He was on his third combat tour — one to Iraq, two to Afghanistan — in his less-than-seven-year career. Castro’s last mission was “a fight that occurred at distances measured in hand-grenade range, within a complex environment of walled mazes …

Battleland Battleland

End of the Line for the F-16?

There are reports from the subcontinent that India has eliminated the two U.S.-built planes from its $10 billion competition to buy about 126 fighters. Both the Lockheed F-16 and Boeing F-18 have reportedly been scratched from the list of candidates, in favor of a pair of European-built planes. The F-16 is built in Fort Worth. I was …

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