Rachel Martin

Rachel Martin is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

Prior to moving into the host position in the fall of 2012, Martin started as National Security Correspondent for NPR in May 2010. In that position she covered both defense and intelligence issues. She traveled regularly to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Secretary of Defense, reporting on the U.S. wars and the effectiveness of the Pentagon's counterinsurgency strategy. Martin also reported extensively on the changing demographic of the U.S. military – from the debate over whether to allow women to fight in combat units – to the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Her reporting on how the military is changing also took her to a U.S. Air Force base in New Mexico for a rare look at how the military trains drone pilots.

Martin was part of the team that launched NPR's experimental morning news show, The Bryant Park Project, based in New York — a two-hour daily multimedia program that she co-hosted with Alison Stewart and Mike Pesca.

In 2006-2007, Martin served as NPR's religion correspondent. Her piece on Islam in America was awarded "Best Radio Feature" by the Religion News Writers Association in 2007. As one of NPR's reporters assigned to cover the Virginia Tech massacre that same year, she was on the school's campus within hours of the shooting and on the ground in Blacksburg, Va., covering the investigation and emotional aftermath in the following days.

Based in Berlin, Germany, Martin worked as a NPR foreign correspondent from 2005-2006. During her time in Europe, she covered the London terrorist attacks, the federal elections in Germany, the 2006 World Cup and issues surrounding immigration and shifting cultural identities in Europe.

Her foreign reporting experience extends beyond Europe. Martin has also worked extensively in Afghanistan. She began reporting from there as a freelancer during the summer of 2003, covering the reconstruction effort in the wake of the U.S. invasion. In fall 2004, Martin returned for several months to cover Afghanistan's first democratic presidential election. She has reported widely on women's issues in Afghanistan, the fledgling political and governance system and the U.S.-NATO fight against the insurgency. She has also reported from Iraq, where she covered U.S. military operations and the strategic alliance between Sunni sheiks and the U.S. military in Anbar province.

Martin started her career at public radio station KQED in San Francisco, as a producer and reporter.

She holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, and a Master's degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.

The tiny principality of Liechtenstein spreads across a grand total of 62 square miles. Now, it's getting smaller.

Detroit's Orchestra Hall is one of the best symphony concert halls in the country. The acoustics are top-notch. The theater itself is grand. Important music is made there by some of the country's most talented classical musicians.

One year ago Tuesday, Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, devastating shoreline communities from Florida to Maine.

Many of these areas have been rebuilt, including the Long Beach boardwalk, about 30 miles outside New York City. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new boardwalk Friday.

Ninety percent of the funding for the restoration came from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid $44 million to repair the devastation.

The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, the retired four-star general who stepped down late Friday citing an extramarital affair, brings to an end one of the most storied careers in modern U.S. military history.

Petraeus left the Army in August 2011 after nearly four decades in uniform. Before his retirement ceremony had even begun, he walked up on the empty stage, went over to the podium and tapped on the microphone. The general was doing his own mic check.

When President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney meet for their third presidential debate on Monday, there will be some rules for the candidates — and the audience.

In the first debate, Jim Lehrer of PBS demanded "Absolute silence!" Although Lehrer caught some flack for letting the candidates freewheel in that debate, he meant business when it came to keeping the audience quiet.

"If you hear something that's really terrific, sit on it!" he told the audience. "If you hear something you don't like, sit on it!"

But that's not the only debate rule — not by far.

Last year, members of the 182nd National Guard regiment marked Father's Day far away from their loved ones. This year, they're home with their kids after a year in Afghanistan.

Spc. Bryan Tolley, 29, knows the challenges of being both a soldier and a dad. His son, Ryan, is a shy, blond 18-month-old who happily clings to his dad.

"Seeing his face light up when he sees Dada come through his bedroom door instead of Mama — because he's so used to his mother — it's awesome. I love it," says Tolley of Plymouth, Mass.

The 182nd Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard landed back in the U.S. last March after a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.

After two months of leave, however, their official transition time is over and the deployment paychecks have stopped. It's now time to get back to regular life, and for the members from Massachusetts, that means a mandatory check-in with the unit's leadership.

From Soldier To Civilian

Before the soldiers of the 182nd Regiment of the Army National Guard came home, they were asked how many were unemployed or looking for work. The answer: about one in three.

As more soldiers return to civilian life, a civilian job may not be there waiting. Service members with the National Guard have the extra challenge of convincing employers to hire them when they may be called to active duty for a year or more. There are laws designed to protect vets from losing their jobs or promotions because of their service, but it's hard to prove when it happens.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There is one group in the military with a unique role in helping soldiers and their families through difficult times. So, on this Easter Sunday, an Army chaplain describes his work helping soldiers who have just returned from war.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RICK EBB: My name is Chaplain Rick Ebb. I'm the post chaplain here at Camp Atterbury. I am one of the first people they see, and I think that's very important that the representative of faith is there. And we say a prayer, a quick prayer, for God's safety bringing them back.

Back from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, the 182nd Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard had to make a pit stop before heading home. At Camp Atterbury in Indiana, the service members were far from their families, most of which are in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The returning soldiers had to go through a series of checkups and assessments before their welcome-home ceremony, which marks the moment they return to civilian life and the people they left behind.

Before they got there, there was anxiety on both sides — for soldiers and their families.

A few days ago, a plane carrying members of the 182nd Infantry Regiment touched down in Indiana. The 303 soldiers who were on board are members of an Army National Guard unit that has just finished a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.

The soldiers, dressed in their combat uniforms and carrying their weapons, bounded down the stairs from the plane. They shook the hands of the generals who had gathered there to welcome them home. It was the middle of the night and raining, but none of them seemed to mind. It had been a long trip and a long year.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

So what does it take to win an election: A clear message, a strong organization, good hair? How about deep pipes?

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: It's my view that the administration's policies are actually designed on purpose to bring about higher gas prices.

MARTIN: That's Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell who has won a few elections in his day.

Secrets: the currency of spies around the world.

The rise of social media, hash-tags, forums, blogs and online news sites has revealed a new kind of secret — those hiding in plain sight. The CIA calls all this information "open source" material, and it's changing the way America's top spy agency does business.

The U.S. military said Thursday that U.S. and Pakistani forces both made mistakes in a U.S. helicopter attack that killed two dozen Pakistani troops in November along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The Pentagon released the findings of its investigation that said a lack of trust, miscommunication and faulty map information all contributed to the shooting.

"For the loss of life and lack of coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses, we express our deepest regret," said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

Around 1,100 Air Force pilots fly remotely piloted aircraft – or drones. These planes soar over Iraq or Afghanistan but the pilots sit at military bases back in the United States.

A new Pentagon study shows that almost 30 percent of drone pilots surveyed suffer from what the military calls "burnout." It's the first time the military has tried to measure the psychological impact of waging a "remote-controlled war."

Army Sgt. Maj. Todd Burnett spent about three years in Iraq hunting for improvised explosive devices, also knows as IEDs.

"I can remember going out and one week I got blown up three times," Burnett says. He says back then, it wasn't whether you were going to get blown up, it was just a matter of when you were going to get blown up.

To understand how important remotely piloted aircraft are to the U.S. military, consider this: The U.S. Air Force says this year it will train more drone pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined.

And that's changing the nature of aerial warfare — and the pilots who wage it.

Steve, a lieutenant colonel, grew up wanting to be in the Air Force. And that meant one thing: wanting to be a pilot.

To him, flying is physical: the pull of gravity, the sounds inside the cockpit.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down. That means more troops will be coming home. Jobs are tough to find these days for anyone, but especially for veterans. Yesterday President Obama signed into law a plan meant to get more vets hired. NPR's Rachel Martin has more.

RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: The unemployment rate for veterans is around 12 percent - that's close to four points higher than for everyone else. President Obama says it's time to do something about it.

The congressional supercommittee has only a few days left to come up with a plan to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit. One of the areas on the chopping block is the nation's defense budget, and Pentagon officials are pushing back against any cuts beyond the $450 billion they've already been asked to make.

The defense budget is an easy target when it comes to cutting the deficit, because it makes up half of the federal government's entire discretionary budget, says Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The congressional super committee has two months to come up with a way to slash more than a trillion dollars from the federal deficit, or risk deeper cuts that would be triggered automatically. Everything is on the table in the debate — including defense spending.

The Pentagon is on a mission to prevent the defense budget from taking the brunt of the cuts, and the threat of losing funding has both the military branches and the defense industry fighting back.

U.S. military officials have for years talked of links between Pakistan's spy agency and militant groups attacking American targets across the border in Afghanistan.

During a hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill, the top U.S. military officer said there's proof.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, was blunt. Supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the militant Haqqani network was responsible for attacks that included the one on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last week, he said.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is over Tuesday.

The ban against gays serving openly in the military has been repealed. Starting Tuesday, gay service members cannot be discriminated against for their sexual identity. But the policy has affected the lives of thousands of people during the 18 years it was in place. NPR spoke with two of them: one who was discharged from the military under the law eight years ago; the other a gay Marine who has been keeping his sexual identity a secret for 14 years.

The Former Army Soldier

When Leon Panetta was CIA director, he helped lead the effort to find and kill Osama bin Laden.

Now, Panetta may have an even harder job.

He's two months into his tenure as secretary of defense and here's what Panetta has to do: Run two ground wars, keep up the fight against al-Qaida and at the same time figure out how to cut what could end up being a trillion dollars from a Pentagon's budget.

The Laugh

Drone warfare is now one of the most fundamental features of the U.S. battle against its enemies. Just don't any anyone in the government to talk about it.

Since 2004, the United States military has fired about 270 missiles into Pakistan since 2004, killing thousands of militants, according to the U.S. government. Dozens of so-called high-value targets have been eliminated, like al-Qaida's No. 2, who was killed in an attack last month.

But since the CIA runs these attacks, they are secret. As a result, no one in the government is supposed to admit they're happening.

The U.S. Special Forces held a changing of the guard Monday, and it should have been a moment to recount triumphs, like the raid that killed Osama bin Laden just three months ago.

Instead, the long-planned change of command in Tampa, Florida, was a somber day as military leaders paid tribute to the 30 American troops who died in Afghanistan in a helicopter crash Saturday.

Nearly two dozen were members of the unit responsible for killing bin Laden – Navy Seal Team 6.

For several GOP lawmakers, the decision on whether to vote for the debt deal hinged on how the prescribed cuts will affect defense spending. In the end, enough Republicans in the House put their concerns about cutting the deficit over their concerns about cutting defense spending.

But no one really knows how much the Pentagon will have to cut as a result of the deal or when.

"We are in uncharted territory here," said David Berteau, an expert on budgetary issues with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.