The agency charged with bringing home and identifying American war dead is slow, inefficient and stymied by outdated methods, according to a joint investigation by NPR and ProPublica.

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(The following transcript is from an interview with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as aired on Morning Edition.)

Masooma, pictured with her children, recounted the events of pre-dawn March 11, 2012 when she says a U.S. soldier rampaged through two villages killing 16 people, mostly children. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales pleaded guilty to the massacre.
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

The Department of Defense has denied a request by reporters for information about Staff Sergeant Robert Bales’ murder of 16 Afghan civilians.

Top commanders in the U.S. Army have announced publicly that they have a problem: They have too many "toxic leaders" — the kind of bosses who make their employees miserable. Many corporations share a similar problem, but in the Army's case, destructive leadership can potentially have life or death consequences. So, some Army researchers are wondering if toxic officers have contributed to soldiers' mental health problems.

US Army To Issue New Rules On Tattoos

Sep 24, 2013
Flickr Photo/Binder.donedat

It is not uncommon for an soldier to have tattoos but strict new guidelines for what tattoos soldiers are allowed to have are about to go into place.  New rules governing things like tattoos and grooming for soldiers have been approved by the Secretary of the Army and are only awaiting a final signature from Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler. What are the new rules and why the change? David Hyde talks with Stars and Stripes Afghanistan correspondent, Josh Smith about the new rules.

Update at 3:14 p.m. ET. Carter Receives Medal Of Honor:

Saying he represented "the essence of true heroism," President Obama presented Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter with the nation's highest military honors, this afternoon.

"As these soldiers and families will tell you, they're a family forged in battle, and loss, and love," Obama said, according to the AP.

Our Original Post Continues:

The Army staff sergeant who Monday afternoon will receive the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony has mixed emotions.

US Army

A solider from Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Spokane-born Staff Sgt. Ty Carter of  will be one of only a handful of living American soldiers to receive the nation’s highest military honor. The Army says US troops were far outnumbered that day in 2009 at Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan. During the battle the Army says Carter killed enemy troops and risked his own life to save an injured soldier pinned down by a barrage of enemy fire.

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Ross Reynolds talks with Seattle Army Capt. Will Swenson about receiving the Medal Of Honor and his actions during the Battle of Ganjgal in Afghanistan.

This interview originally aired on November 8, 2013.

A solider from Washington state has been charged with murder in the death of his pregnant wife.  Prosecutors also say Pvt. Isaac Aguigui of Cashmere, Wash., is the ringleader of an anti-government militia group that plotted to overthrow the government and poison apple crops in Washington state.

NPR Special: Iraq War

Mar 15, 2013
Flickr Photo/H Dragon

Coming up on Spotlight, March 18 at 8 p.m.

Ten years ago, a US-led invasion brushed aside Iraq's army and toppled the country’s long-time leader, Saddam Hussein.  The swift military operation quickly became a difficult and complicated occupation. The US found itself fighting an insurgency, and a sectarian conflict nearly consumed the country.

The Army has more than doubled its number of military and civilian behavioral health workers in the past five years, however, a newly released report that examines how the Army evaluates soldiers for mental health issues finds that the system is riddled with problems. 

High Desert Warrior

Attorneys for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales say they’re unsure if they’ll pursue a mental health defense in the case. 

But if they do, the judge has ordered that the soldier must undergo a so-called sanity board review.

Bales is accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians and wounding six others in an overnight rampage last March.

(Photo/Center For A New American Security)

Does firing the top brass hold the key to success for America's military? Author, journalist and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security Thomas Ricks argues that the top military leadership of the United States has not lived with the same fear of being relieved of duty the way it once did. Ricks says lax treatment of underperforming generals since World War II has invited subpar performance and a lack of accountability. We talk with Thomas Ricks about his new book, “The Generals.”

Also this hour: Weekday green thumbs Marty Wingate, Willi Galloway and Greg Rabourn join us to answer your flower, vegetable and native plant questions. Need guidance for your garden? Call us at 206.543.5869 or email

Plus, Michael Fagin joins us to recommend a hike to match the week's weather forecast.

Pre-trial hearings continue this evening at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He’s accused of massacring 16 civilians in Afghanistan, including nine children. Prosecutors say he left his base last March and went on an overnight five-hour killing spree.

The hearings will determine whether the case will advance to court-martial, where the government has said it plans to seek the death penalty. KUOW’s Sara Lerner spoke with Patricia Murphy, who’s covering the hearings.

Pretrial hearings for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales continue tonight when Afghan villagers and soldiers are expected to testify by video. The hearings are expected to run into the early morning hours US time.