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

No-Foot-dragging Zone

No-drama Obama’s dithering over — or is it carefully pondering? — the wisdom of imposing a no-fly zone atop Libya has dragged on so long that mischief is creeping into the arguments over its merit or lack thereof.

Objections to the U.S. establishing a no-fly zone over Libya are based on erroneous suppositions made by leaders in the

Battleland Battleland

Defense Jobs Behind Bars

Lawmakers are always pushing the Pentagon to buy weapons it doesn’t need to save jobs back home. Lawbreakers too, apparently. Neat piece here on how federal prison inmates are helping to build Patriot air-defense missiles — and other arms — starting at 23 cents an hour. The disconnect between 23 cents and the $700 billion we’re …

Battleland Battleland

Target Price

Sure we know that building a missile-defense shield is expensive, buying all those interceptors to shoot down incoming missiles from Iran and North Korea aimed at our troops or our allies (Unofficial motto: “It’s just like an umbrella — if you take it with you, it won’t rain.”) But today’s contract awarded by the Pentagon is a real …

Battleland Battleland

Libya? Your Move, Mr. President

In the newsmag biz, you don’t call something a trend until you have three examples. Well, here are three heavyweights who in the last day or so have called on the Obama Administration to get off the dime and do something — militarily — about Libya. It’s looming as a moment of truth for the White House.

Battleland Battleland

Libya Today: No-Fly Hurdles, No-Gaddafi Rumors

Certain national-security circles are buzzing at the prospect of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. But they’re putting the airplanes before the authorization, and no doubt setting the Libyan rebels calling for such action up for disappointment. NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels on Thursday to debate the wisdom of keeping …

Battleland Battleland

Higher Hired Guns

Soldiers aren’t the only thing surging in Afghanistan. There are now 18,919 hired guns — aka “private security contractor personnel” — working for the U.S. military in that country, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service. “The number of PSC personnel in Afghanistan has more than tripled since June 2009,” …

Battleland Battleland

Lousy Libya Options

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has left the capital on a week-long trip — he’s in Afghanistan today — leaving subordinates back in the Pentagon to figure out what, if anything, to do about Libya. There’s a pervasive sense of dutifulness — and unease — inside the Defense Department over doing anything beyond humanitarian ops.

The …

Battleland Battleland

Bad 'Air Day

No matter how tough your week has been, it couldn’t have been as bad as the so-called instructor pilot whose shortcomings have just been detailed in an Air Force report into the crash of a T-6A training aircraft last fall. Because it’s late Friday afternoon and I’m in a pretty good mood, I’m not going to include his name.

Battleland Battleland

Counting The Wounded

Traumatic brain injuries are the most insidious wounds being suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our armored vehicles, body armor and helmets have gotten so good, the only thing left to damage in many cases when IEDs blow up are soldiers’ brains rattling around inside their skulls. Haven’t figured out how to stop that from …

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