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

House Kills F-35's Second Engine

The pork on Capitol Hill turned rancid as the House struck a blow for using the defense budget for defense — and not for jobs — Wednesday afternoon. That’s because it voted 233-198 against $450 million in funding for a second engine for the F-35 warplane.

It’s a switch from last year’s vote and shows that even the Pentagon isn’t …

Battleland Battleland

Do You Feel $1 Billion Safer Today?

Pentagon contracts have become increasingly fuzzy in recent years, with descriptions of just what it is we’re getting for our money tough to discern. The latest example was at the top of the list of contracts announced by the Pentagon late Tuesday. It’s paying four companies as much as $281.7 million each (where do they come up with …

Battleland Battleland

Happy 69th, Kim Jong Il

The happy citizens of North Korea took to the streets of their capital of Pyongyang Wednesday to celebrate the birthday of their authoritarian mob boss, Kim Jong Il. Reports from the isolated regime show throngs of troops and school kids offering flowers to, and bowing before, a giant statue of him. But the footage looks pretty lame, …

Battleland Battleland

Nervous U.S. Navy Eyes on Bahrain

While the troubles in Egypt and Tunisia are important in Washington’s geo-strategic calculations, they don’t rank highly in its selfish concern over real estate. All that changes when it comes to the tiny Persian Gulf state of Bahrain, an island tucked between Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the gulf’s western shore with fewer than 1 million …

Battleland Battleland

The Pentagon Can!

Singer Tom Smith has retooled The Candy Man, a song written for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film, and most famously covered by Sammy Davis Jr. in 1972. This video is now bouncing around the Pentagon, as its inhabitants seek to recover from yesterday’s budget roll out. Warning: Smith hails from Ann Arbor, so the rewrite has a …

Battleland Battleland

Pentagon Budget Numbers

Big rollout of the U.S. military’s budget request for 2012 today (of course, 2011′s still isn’t finalized — and the fiscal year is nearly half over — but that’s another matter). This first chart traces the budget from 2001 through 2016, if the Administration gets its way. The growth from $316 billion in 2001 to this year’s planned $708 …

Battleland Battleland

A New Nuclear Triad?

Something profound is happening in the proposed 2012 $670 billion (including $117 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq) defense budget that will be released on Monday, but few are paying attention. You may want to, because it sets the nation on a path that, if history is any guide, will last for a half-century, and cost hundreds of …

Battleland Battleland

Blast from the Past

Someone of a certain age has noted the growing resemblance between Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and the Mighty Favog, from Saturday Night Live, way back in 1975-1976. They do more than look alike, however. Favog was a deity in the Land of Gorch, offering wisdom to King Ploobis and the planet’s other residents in exchange for sacrifices. But he …

Battleland Battleland

What Will The Egyptian Military Do?

When we published our dead-tree story last week on the steady hand the Egyptian military was playing in keeping things in line in a tumultuous time, we kept our fingers crossed. Those tanks could roll at any moment — against either the protesters, or the government. But they stood still, as they have for all 18 days of the protests so …

Battleland Battleland

Not So Fast, Afghan Women

Yesterday’s post on how the U.S. and NATO are trying to make Afghanistan more female friendly faces obstacles like this detailed in today’s New York Times by ace reporter and former colleague Alissa Rubin:

KABUL, Afghanistan — After her parents threw her out of the house for refusing to marry a 52-year-old widower with five children,

Battleland Battleland

More Afghan Notion Building

Earlier today we posted on the U.S.-led efforts to give Afghan women more clout in their society. In another sign that the U.S. has gone well beyond war there, today we learned of something called the Rule of Law Field Force-Afghanistan. Its goal: justice in that war-torn country.

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins said the Afghan …

Battleland Battleland

Notion Building in Afghanistan

In a primitive land where women have been suppressed for centuries, the U.S. military and NATO are trying to change that. Jack Kem, a top NATO trainer, said he and his team are trying to bring “gender mainstreaming” into Afghan society. That’s a stiff challenge, given this story by TIME’s Aryn Baker last year.

Kem, on leave from the …

Battleland Battleland

"Don't Blow Smoke Up My Ass"

Excuse me, but that is the Air Force’s top officer scolding the contractors who supply him with weapons. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz didn’t mince words Wednesday after giving a speech in Washington, D.C.

When an audience member asked him what contractors could do to help the Pentagon during the coming lean times, …

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