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.

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.

It's been more than four months since NATO launched an attack on Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya. Since then, opposition forces have gained ground with help from NATO airstrikes, but Gadhafi's military is holding firm so far.

President Obama and other leaders have called on Gadhafi to leave, but he's clearly not listening. Now, the conflict in Libya has turned into a complicated waiting game.

Gen. David Petraeus stepped down as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Monday and handed control of the war over to Marine Corps Gen. John Allen. Petraeus is leaving to become head of the CIA at the end of the summer.

A year ago, President Obama asked Petraeus to take charge in Afghanistan and jump start the counterinsurgency operation there. Now, there's a question of whether Monday's change in command also signals a change in strategy.

The Counterinsurgency Strategy

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has been on the job for all of 11 days and he's already frustrated with Iraq.

"I'd like things to move a lot faster here, frankly, in terms of the decision-making process. I'd like them to make a decision, you know: Do they want us to stay? Don't they want us to stay? ... But damn it, make a decision," he said during a visit to Baghdad on Monday following a brief trip to Afghanistan. It's Panetta's first trip to the warzones since assuming his new job last week.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is in Afghanistan Saturday, his first visit to that country since assuming the position. Panetta's view of the war in Afghanistan may be colored by his experience as director of the CIA and the successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Panetta takes the reins at the Pentagon riding high. He oversaw the CIA and is credited for helping the agency track down bin Laden. On the flight to Kabul, Panetta told reporters that he believes al-Qaida and its affiliates are on their heels.

On Thursday, Robert Gates will step down as defense secretary — a position he held for more than four years, overseeing two wars. He's the only person to hold the job under two presidents from different parties.

For the past two years, he's attained a kind of "wise man" status within the Obama administration. While he makes weekly visits to the White House, he has also spent a great deal of time in khakis and a baseball cap out in the field with men and women in uniform.