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

Good Help Is Hard to Find: Afghan Version

Not only are we hiring too many contractors in Afghanistan — we’re also hiring the wrong ones. A year-long probe into the hiring practices of Afghan private contractors released Thursday has found that some had hired lackeys loyal to warlords involved in kidnapping, murder and the Taliban. “There is significant evidence that some …

Battleland Battleland

VA Still Screwing Vets

The Department of Veterans Affairs has long been viewed as a labyrinth that the nation’s vets have to navigate to get what their country owed them for their military service. In recent years, things have gotten better, due in no small part to a huge increase in its budget. It has soared from $53 billion in 2002 to $125 billion in the …

Battleland Battleland

The U.S. Air Wars over Pakistan

The smoke is lifting from the air war the U.S. is waging in Pakistan. Yes, a U.S.-Pakistani probe has found, U.S. helicopters did attack and kill two Pakistani Frontier Scouts — members of the Pakistani military — in a border outpost near Afghanistan on September 30. They fired on the outpost because shots came from it, the …

Battleland Battleland

Happy Birthday, War

It was nine years ago today that the U.S. launched its war on Afghanistan in retaliation for the 9/11 terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Here’s a graf from a file I wrote on the eve of the conflict:

As Pentagon planners chart their next moves into Afghanistan, U.S. special forces have a big decision to make. If they are

Battleland Battleland

The Lean Green Fighting Machine

Good story in this morning’s New York Times on how our military’s thirst for fuel in Afghanistan — and the militants’ success in blowing up trucks carrying it there from Pakistan — is an Achilles’ heel. The Times also focuses on the green push from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, as we did last April.

The Army this morning details what it …

Battleland Battleland

Which Military Jobs Are Most Prone to Suicide?

The military can be a lot like a young, eager-beaver reporter. Sometimes, it feels a need to dump all its data from its notebook to show how hard it’s working, even if the data are worthless. The latest example is from the final report of the Department of Defense Task Force on Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces, which …

Battleland Battleland

Figures Don't Lie — Military Spending edition

There’s a call for increased defense spending in this morning’s Wall Street Journal opinion pages. Just as a thunderclap follows lightning, there will soon be a call for more cuts in military spending from the editorial page of the New York Times. There’s no reason you can’t play along with this game at home. To help, here’s a pair of …

Battleland Battleland

Charlie Wilson's War II

One of the most interesting stories I covered in Washington three decades ago, while working for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, was Texas congressman Charlie Wilson’s effort to help the mujahedeen drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. It was a heck of a tale, one Hollywood turned into Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks, three years …

Battleland Battleland

Military Suicides Are Higher Than We Think

Careful readers note that most reporting on military suicides calls them “suspected” suicides, and for a good reason — only after a careful investigation can the authorities make a declaration that someone intentionally took his or her own life. Obviously, errors here can only add to the burden of losing a loved one.

So that’s what …

Battleland Battleland

The Growing Chasm Between Citizen and Soldier

While the Pentagon’s top military leader spoke of a rash of weekend suicides over breakfast Wednesday, its civilian boss warned in a late afternoon talk at Duke University that the nation and its military are growing apart.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said suicides and war’s other post-combat problems are on the …

Battleland Battleland

Top Admiral: Military Suicides Will Keep Rising

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was talking of the military’s ability to fight future wars Wednesday when he suddenly changed gears. “We had five suicides in the Army last weekend,” the nation’s top military officer abruptly volunteered. And, he warned, such horrors are only going to grow.

He almost seemed to …

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