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.

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.

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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.

The most elite club in the military, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is set to get a new member: the chief of the National Guard. Congress approved the change as part of the defense authorization bill last week and the president is expected to sign the bill into law.

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.

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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.

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