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

New Defense Strategy: Why Wait for the Details?

You may recall Battleland’s advisory last week that it was too early to conclude whether the Obama Administration’s new Pentagon strategy makes sense. That’s because the devil is in the details, and they won’t be known for another month – when the Defense Department unveils its 2013 budget.

But when you’re an editorial …

Tomorrow’s Pentagon: Doing Less, With More

President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta unveiled a new military strategy Thursday: the Pentagon of the future, they made clear, will be doing less with more.

“Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities …

Changing of the Guard: National Guard Joins Joint Chiefs

I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.

The sentiment is usually attributed to Groucho Marx, but as of this week it works for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, too.

That’s because when President Obama signed the 2012 defense bill on New Year’s Eve, the new law ordered Air Force General …

White House: We’ll Gloat If We Want

When we suggested Thursday that it might be nice if people toned down their political rhetoric for awhile over the end of the U.S. military’s role in Iraq, we didn’t have President Obama in mind. Turns out, we should have.

The Pentagon’s No. 3 Departs

If Michèle Flournoy were a man, no one outside of nerdy defense circles would have noted her announcement Monday that she will be leaving the Pentagon’s No. 3 post – the under secretary of defense for policy – come …

U.S.-Pakistani Relations Continue Tailspin

So how well did President Obama’s telephoned condolences to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday go over? The call was intended to smooth relations between the two nations ruptured 10 days ago when NATO aircraft killed 24 Pakistani troops in a colossally snafued attack. The call, apparently, didn’t go over well, according to …

Obama’s War: U.S. Casualities in Afghanistan By Year

Charts can make clear too often what words only obscure. Take this arresting graphic, contained in a new Congressional Research Service study made available by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists (CRS reports are generated solely for congressional use, and aren’t released to the public; Aftergood gets a lot of …

War (un)Planning: Pentagon Unready for Supercommittee Defense Cuts

You can always tell the rookie Pentagon reporter. He, or she, is the one who whispers: “They told me they’re planning for war with Iran!” That’s when the vets around the building have to say: “They’ve been doing that for decades. Somewhere along these 17 miles of corridors, they have plans for everything.”

At least until last Friday. …

Who Lost Iraq?

The debate over Iraq’s future – hopeful, according to the Obama Administration, hopeless, according to its critics – has begun in earnest. It was kicked off by the Administration’s recent decision that all U.S. troops will be home for the holidays. The White House blames Iraq’s parliament, which has refused to grant U.S. troops the …

The Military Lessons of Gaddafi’s Fall

Moammar Gaddafi’s death makes for an interesting punctuation mark in the ever-evolving U.S. approach to war. The key issue: is it an exclamation point (“We got him! And not a single American died!) or a question mark (“Did we …

One in Three

Thirty-four percent, to be precise. That’s how many veterans believe the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were worth fighting, according to a new and dispiriting – but not surprising – Pew Research Center poll. Americans prefer wars like the first Gulf War – 100 days of bombing, followed by 96 hours of ground combat, then a victory …

al Qaeda’s al-Awlaki Reportedly Killed in Yemen

The top English-speaking member of al Qaeda — New Mexican-born Anwar al-Awlaki — was killed Friday, the Yemen government announced, a death quickly confirmed by U.S. officials. It’s yet another key indication that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent claim that the defeat of al Qaeda is “within reach” may be getting closer.

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