November 19, 2017 | In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
Sunday, November 19, 2017

Even in the glow of the U.S. Navy's daring rescue of a cargo ship captain from Somali pirates, the military is still searching for a solution to the epidemic of high seas piracy.

The Navy's effort to coordinate with other international warships and the shipping industry to crack down on cargo vessel seizures has done little to deter the onslaught of multimillion-dollar ship ransoms, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said Sunday.

President Obama had warned Kim Jong Il that should he launch a long-range ballistic missile the United States would "take appropriate steps to let North Korea know that it can't threaten the safety and security of other countries with impunity."

Last weekend, Kim went ahead with the launch anyway. Obama took the matter to the United Nations where, as expected, nothing happened.

President Barack Obama faces a decision later this year whether to send an extra 10,000 US troops to Afghanistan, amid an escalating war against Islamist insurgents, defense officials said.

A top general and senior Pentagon official disclosed on Wednesday for the first time details of a pending request from the US commander in Afghanistan for yet more troops for a war that has already lasted more than seven years.

President Barack Obama ruled out sending US troops on a hot pursuit of extremists across the Afghan border into Pakistan -- but demanded Islamabad hold up its end of the anti-terror struggle.

Referring to US missile strikes on militants, Obama said in a television interview: "If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we're going after them."

But asked on CBS program "Face the Nation" if he would order US troops on the ground into militant safe havens inside Pakistan, Obama stressed: "No.

Without fanfare, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has reversed policy regarding photographing coffins bearing bodies of military personnel killed overseas. On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration banned such photography at military bases. The new policy permits photography as long as the immediate family agrees. Gates stated Pentagon opinion was divided but he found the Army's argument for change persuasive.

The strain of fighting wars on multiple fronts is hurting America's military readiness, a report on the state of our armed forces shows.

With our soldiers serving multiple tours on an ever-increasing number of conflicts, the risk level remains at "significant" for the third straight year.

And the problem shows no signs of easing as President Barack Obama's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq will take longer than originally hoped and an additional 17,000 troops are headed for the war in Afghanistan.

Close to 3,000 American soldiers who recently arrived in Afghanistan to secure two violent provinces near Kabul have begun operations in the field and already are seeing combat, the unit's spokesman said Monday.

The new troops are the first wave of an expected surge of reinforcements this year. The process began to take shape under President George Bush but has been given impetus by President Barack Obama's call for an increased focus on Afghanistan.

Wars full of waste and fraud

A new commission examining waste and corruption in wartime contracts is getting a grim report from government watchdogs who say poor planning, weak oversight and greed combined to soak U.S. taxpayers and undermine American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Buoyed by more recruiters, bigger bonuses and an elite reputation, the Marine Corps has grown by nearly 27,000 members in a little more than two years — half the time that military officials believed it would take.

While the rapid expansion has stretched the Marine budget and put some recruits in temporary or quickly refurbished barracks, it is also easing the strain on Marine forces tapped for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In early 2007, the Marine Corps launched a program to expand its ranks — planning to add about 5,000 Marines a year for five years, and reaching a total of 202,000 by 2012. But this month the Marines already hit 200,000, and Gen. James Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, said they will meet their 202,000 goal in early 2009.

Israel's military onslaught against the militant Hamas movement will probably make it harder for President-elect Barack Obama to fulfill a campaign pledge of early and vigorous Mideast peacemaking, and the pre-inauguration timing may frustrate any effort he plans to establish new footing among Arab partners.