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Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama said on Thursday that slowing down the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is "the right thing to do."

"Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be," Obama said, so the United States will leave 9,800 troops in the country through most of 2016. By 2017, about 5,500 troops will remain in a few bases across the country.

Obama said that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan will remain focused on two non-combat objectives: to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida.

Senior administration officials say President Obama will announce Thursday that he will keep a larger military presence in Afghanistan than he had planned. The president had hoped to whittle the U.S. forces down to just 1,000 by the time he left office.

The officials say 9,800 troops will stay in Afghanistan through most of 2016, and 5,500 in 2017.

NPR's Mara Liasson reports the decision was driven by recent successes by anti-government Taliban fighters:

U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Peace (right) and her wife, Debbie, with their youngest daughter at their home in Spanaway, Wash.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Capt. Jennifer Peace walks into the room, a tall, thin woman in crisp uniform, with minimal makeup and trim brown hair.

But when soldiers call her ma’am, she has orders to correct them. They must call her sir.

U.S. troops in Afghanistan lowered the flag and boxed up their gear at the end of last year as President Obama declared the formal end to 13 years of U.S. combat operations.

File photo of Bowe Bergdahl at his graduation from basic training with the Army.
Bergdahl family

There’s a recommendation on whether Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face a court martial, but it’s not being released to the public yet.

Bergdahl’s attorney says the hearing officer overseeing the Army’s case sent his recommendations Monday to the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The international aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is calling for an international investigation into what it calls a war crime in Afghanistan — Saturday's U.S. airstrikes that killed 22 people, including medical staff and patients at the organization's hospital in Kunduz.

Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray is calling for disciplinary action after a Veterans Affairs investigation found that staffers in Seattle dumped mail about vets’ benefits in a yellow bucket and left it for months. 

A single number has shaped the way that Americans think about young military veterans.

It's the number 22, as in, 22 vets take their lives each day.

The number has become a rallying cry for advocates trying to call attention to suicide among vets, especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Twenty-two, not some vague, rounded-off number. Not 30, not 20. Twenty-two.

A number so specific it inspires action. Speeches, fundraisers, marches and even walks clear across the country.

But 22 doesn't quite add up.

My Grandfather And The Plane That Changed Seattle

Sep 29, 2015
Reporter Ashley Ahearn dug into the Northwest history of the B-17 bomber with her father, Joe Ahearn, Jr.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

There’s an old photograph in my father’s office that I’ve always wondered about. In it my grandfather and nine other young airmen stand in front of their B-17 plane, shoulders squared, staring proudly at the camera. They were probably in England at the time, getting ready to fly bombing raids over Germany in 1943.

Share Your Family Connection To World War II

Sep 27, 2015

In a recent story, KUOW Ashley Ahearn reports on the making of the B-17 bomber in Seattle – and the women who moved here to work on Boeing’s production lines.

We want to hear from you. How was your family affected by World War II? Share your memories and photos with us. Write to pictures@kuow.org. If you send photos, please be sure to describe what's pictured.

Submissions may be published at KUOW.org and our social media accounts.

File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Outrage is growing over the potential discharge of a Special Forces soldier from Joint Base Lewis McCord who beat an Afghan police commander accused of raping a young boy.

The practice of bacha bazi – an Afghan term for powerful men using adolescent boys for sex – and just what American troops have or haven’t done about it is getting renewed attention now, but the debate isn't new.

File photo of Bowe Bergdahl at his graduation from basic training with the Army.
Bergdahl family

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl faces a hearing Thursday to determine whether he’ll be court-martialed on a desertion charge.

Olympic College in Bremerton will receive money that will help to pay for a veteran center for students.
Olympic College

Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland and Olympic College in Bremerton will get a little more than $100,000 for the next three years to help student veterans.

The grants from the Department of Education will help create centers for student veterans. 

Veteran Housing Vouchers Scorned by Landlords

Sep 4, 2015

The building manager's office was closed, but Veronica Schenkelberg and Adrian Carrillo decided to wait.

All day, they'd been hitting buzzers and knocking on doors, looking for an apartment for Carrillo, and this building showed promise--it had an apartment available, and from what Carrillo could gather online, it took Section 8 housing vouchers.

After 35 minutes, Cindy Morrison arrived to unlock the door and deliver the same statement the two had been hearing all day:  The building doesn't take federal rent assistance vouchers.

Henry Chamberlain looks at mementos from World War II. He spent three and a half years as a prisoner of the Japanese.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

In 1945 President Harry Truman declared Sept. 2 as Victory Over Japan Day. Japan surrendered aboard the USS Missouri. It was the official end of World War II.

But the suffering wasn't over for Henry Chamberlain, who had been captured on the Philippines' Bataan Peninsula more than three years before.

The Boeing Company built more than 700 KC-135 Stratotankers for the Air Force in the 1950s to the mid-1960's. The majority of these "flying gas stations" are still flying today because of delays in building a modernized replacement.

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

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Adam Ashton, military reporter for the Tacoma News Tribune, about Sgt. Robert Bales and how the military evaluates the mental health of their troops. A new report from the military shows Bales exhibited warning signs of potentially violent behavior before killing 16 Afghan civilians in 2012.

The USS Seawolf in Unalaska Bay on Aug. 14, 2015.
KUCB Photo/John Ryan

A U.S. Navy submarine pulled into Unalaska Bay near the town landfill Friday morning. The sub made no contact with the Port of Dutch Harbor, according to Harbor Master John Days.

It did communicate with the Royal Pacific, a boat hauling wastewater from the Unisea fish-processing plant, as they were crossing paths.

Updated 10:10 p.m. ET

On Friday, two female lieutenants will make history as the first women to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School, a grueling 62-day training program required for admittance into the elite Ranger Regiment.

The women are Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver, and here is what we know about their training and other things Ranger-related:

What does it mean to have a Ranger tab on one's uniform?

The Army is deploying 200 soldiers to help fight wildfires that are burning through about 1.1 million acres across the Western United States. That's according to a press release from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

"It's been nine years since wildfire was so widespread all at once that active military troops joined firefighters battling blazes," NPR's Howard Berkes reports. "Four military C-130 cargo planes are also in use as air tankers."

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle; All Rights Reserved

As World War II came to a dramatic end 70 years ago on Aug. 14, the role that the Northwest played in the conflict was fully revealed in the aftermath of the atomic bombing in Japan.

Color Guard: Michael Jefferies (front), James Bell, Randy Roth, Chadwick Kallebaugh, Andrew Wood (closest to camera).Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Every morning the flags at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Washington, are raised in a color guard ceremony.

The 10 men who do the job are inmates and veterans. 

EA-18G Growlers from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 132 taxi to the runway as they prepare to to depart Naval Air Facility Misawa for their home base of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
Flickr Photo/U.S. Pacific Fleet (CC BY NC 2.0)

A federal judge has denied an injunction request from a Whidbey Island group that would have prevented Navy jets from landing at a strip near Coupeville, Washington.

The group says the noise from EA-18 Growler jet training flights is harmful.

In the spring they asked a federal judge to stop the landings until the Navy completes a new environmental assessment, which is due next year.

Next year, the military will officially lift restrictions on women in combat, the end of a process that, according to the Government Accountability Office, may open up as many as 245,000 jobs that have been off-limits to women. But those who deploy overseas may continue to face obstacles in another area that can have a critical impact on their military experience: contraception.

The name Hiroshima is so tied to the atomic bomb that it's hard to imagine there were other possible targets.

But in early 1945, the U.S. was still months away from building its first bomb and certainly didn't know what to hit.

"Should it be a city? Should it be a military installation? Should you be just displaying the bomb, without killing anybody?" These are questions that were yet to be decided, says Alex Wellerstein, a historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Christopherlin/Creative Commons

Yes, we're a food-obsessed nation. But we still have a long way to go to understand exactly what it is we're eating.

Food writer Anastacia Marx de Salcedo is here to help with a fun and startling new book "Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the US Military Shapes the Way You Eat."

This is a tale of two cities. In New Orleans, there are signs of hope that veteran homelessness can be solved. But Los Angeles presents a very different picture.

Under the deafening highway noise of the Pontchartrain Expressway in central city New Orleans, Ronald Engberson, 54, beds down for the night. Engberson got out of the Marines in 1979, plagued even back then by problems with drugs and alcohol. He says that's mostly the reason he's been homeless the past 10 years.

It started so well. When Saddam Hussein's Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, the United States swiftly cobbled together a broad coalition, unleashed a stunning new generation of air power and waged a lightning ground offensive that lasted all of four days. Iraqi troops were so desperate to quit that some surrendered to Western journalists armed only with notebooks.

Seven Pacific Northwest veterans of World War II leave for Tokyo Thursday. They're carrying 70 captured Japanese flags to return for the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

Army Captain Kellam Carmody discusses a recruit's aptitiude test with Army recruiter Kevin Mitchell at the Army Career Center in Tukwila, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

The first thing a new recruit will encounter at the Army Career Center in Tukwila, Washington, is a locked door.

It’s one of the changes at recruiting stations since the shootings earlier this month at a military facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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