Tom Bowman | New Hampshire Public Radio

Tom Bowman

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For the U.S. military, setting aside a few hours for a group discussion is complicated.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: How we doing today?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Good, good.

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US SYRIA STRIKE

Feb 26, 2021

The U.S. has carried out an airstrike in Syria against an Iranian-backed militia target. The move appears to be in response to a series of rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq.

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So what are the options as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets his counterparts by video conference? NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman has covered the Afghanistan war for many years and is on the line once again. Tom, good morning.

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The FBI continues to investigate last week's mob attack on the Capitol and make arrests that include current and former military service members. Now NPR has learned the domestic extremism problem within the ranks may be more serious than officials realized.

A senior defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly tells NPR that there were 143 notifications of investigations by the FBI last year of former and current military members.

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And I'm Ari Shapiro in Washington, where the transition has officially begun. Last night, the General Services Administration at last acknowledged Joe Biden's win, paving the way for the new Biden administration.

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Updated at 4 p.m. ET

The shake-up at the Pentagon continues after President Trump "terminated" Defense Secretary Mark Esper, replacing him with his counterterrorism chief, Christopher Miller, who was being briefed on issues and operations.

Three other top Pentagon officials have been replaced with Trump loyalists who have pushed conspiracy theories or who are hawkish on Iran. There are concerns such personnel changes could mean a more aggressive stance toward Iran before the president leaves office in the next 2 1/2 months.

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Nov. 3 promises to be an Election Day unlike any other, and public safety entities say they're preparing for tensions and the possibility of violence.

Poll workers are usually the first line of defense in case of disputes between voters, though they may be backed up by private security guards. Some local election authorities say they'll be adding guards, and Washington state's King County says it will post guards to ballot drop boxes that in other years have been unattended.

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Nearly 500 national security experts – both civilians and former senior uniformed officers — have endorsed Joe Biden for president, saying the "current president" is not up to "the enormous responsibilities of his office."

Addressed to "Our Fellow Citizens," the 489 national security experts include 22 four-star officers. The letter never mentions President Trump by name.

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With coronavirus cases on the rise in southern and western states, U.S. military medical personnel are once again being called upon to help.

Army officials have announced that some 740 military health professionals are being sent to Texas and California.

The new deployments come several months after thousands of military medical personnel, including two hospital ships, one on each coast, were sent to help governors and mayors in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The Navy is mobilizing 1,629 reservists to support aircraft carrier and submarine maintenance at its four public shipyards starting next month, officials said.

The mobilization will help reduce the maintenance backlog that has developed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, Naval Sea Systems Command authorized weather and safety leave for shipyard personnel who fell under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "high risk" category for extreme complications tied to the COVID-19 virus.

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The Inglewood Army recruiting station is tucked into a strip mall in a gritty part of Los Angeles. Its neighbors are a liquor store, fast food outlets and palm trees. Inside are the familiar posters: smiling soldiers with the slogans "Army Strong" and "Army Team."

Sergeant First Class Nathan Anslow runs this station. He points to something new just inside the door. A stack of questionnaires — coronavirus screening forms. It's the first stop for potential recruits.

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The Army has announced it is again shipping recruits to basic training, following a two-week pause that was put in place to make sure COVID-19 mitigation measures were operating at all four Army training centers.

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