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Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved. Tuesday, August 22, 2017
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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Bodies of some of the 10 missing sailors have been found in flooded compartments of the USS John S. McCain, a Navy destroyer that collided with a commercial vessel east of Singapore early Monday morning, the U.S. Navy said.

Ten sailors have been missing since the collision, and the remains of some were found by divers performing recovery operations inside the ship, Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

Remains that may belong to another sailor missing from the McCain were found by the Royal Malaysian Navy as it assisted the U.S. in waters east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, Swift said.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of those sailors and the families of our sailors who were injured," he said in the statement, issued from Singapore's Changi Naval Base on Tuesday, where the damaged USS McCain is docked and where the tanker that it collided with is anchored. "The search-and-rescue efforts continue."

One of the missing sailors was identified by government officials as Ohio resident Jacob Drake.

In a statement, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, offered his support to Drake's family and the U.S. Navy.

"Connie and I are thinking of Jacob’s family during this horrible time and we join Ohioans in praying for Jacob’s well-being and safety," Brown said. "Servicemembers like Jacob represent the very best of our state, and I’m hopeful the divers searching for these brave sailors can find him and bring him home safely."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich wrote on Twitter that he is "praying for all, especially Ohio's own Jacob Drake."

Drake is engaged with plans to marry next summer, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Collision followed by flooding

The McCain was heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive freedom-of-navigation operation near one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea, according to the Navy.

The destroyer collided with a tanker vessel, the Alnic MC, off the coast of Singapore around 5:20 a.m. local time Monday, the Stealth Maritime Corp. said in a statement.

Reports of the damage to the two ships seem to indicate that they were crossing paths or at least attempting to move in different directions at the time of the collision.

The McCain's hull received significant damage as a result of the collision, according to the Navy. Photos show what looks like a wide cave on the port side of the ship at the water line.

After the collision, adjacent compartments on the McCain —- including crew berth, machinery and communications rooms —- flooded, according to the Navy, which added that a damage-control response prevented the situation from becoming more serious.

Ships from multiple countries searched for the missing sailors after the collision.

President Trump tweeted that his "thoughts and prayers" are with the McCain's sailors.

Several politicians on both sides of the aisle echoed his sentiment, including Sen. John McCain. The ship is named for his grandfather John Sidney McCain Sr. and his father, John Sidney McCain Jr.

"Cindy and I are keeping America's sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight -- appreciate the work of search & rescue crews," McCain wrote in a tweet.

Call for an operational pause

The collision was hardly an isolated incident for the Navy.

It comes only two months after the USS Fitzgerald's collision with a Philippine container ship in the middle of the night off the coast of Japan. Seven U.S. sailors lost their lives in that collision, and last week the Navy relieved the Fitzgerald's commanding officer, executive officer and senior enlisted sailor for mistakes that led to the crash.

The USS Lake Champlain, a guided missile cruiser, collided with a fishing boat in the Sea of Japan in May. There were no injuries from that crash. The Navy ship tried to alert the fishing boat before the collision, but it was too late.

The USS Antietam, also a guided-missile cruiser, ran aground off the coast of Japan in February, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water.

John Richardson, the Navy's top admiral, called for an operational pause in the region and "a deeper look into how we train and certify forces operating in and around Japan," after the McCain's collision.

"We'll examine the process in which we train and certify our forces that are deployed in Japan to make sure we're doing all we can to make them ready for operations and war fighting," he told reporters.

"This will include but not be limited to looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, material, maintenance and equipment. It will also include a review of how we train and certify our service warfare community, including tactical and navigational proficiency," he said yesterday at a press conference.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The top U.S. commander in the Middle East estimates that additional U.S. troops could arrive in Afghanistan within days or weeks, but, according to several U.S. officials, Defense Secretary James Mattis has yet to sign any orders to deploy more forces and is reviewing the Pentagon's earlier force recommendation.

General Joseph Votel’s comments were confirmed by a U.S. official.

Votel, who was in Afghanistan over the weekend, said what's most important for the U.S. military "is to get some capabilities in to have an impact on the current fighting season," referring to the Taliban's spring fighting season, which began in April.

But several U.S. officials tell ABC News that those forces will take time to deploy, and that Mattis is still reviewing the exact number of troops that will go to Afghanistan.

In a speech on Monday, President Trump suggested additional troops would be sent to the region, but did not reveal specific numbers. Instead, Trump said, "Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on."

Mattis has favored the Pentagon's recommendation of 3,900 additional forces, but while traveling in Iraq on Tuesday he told reporters that the troops deployed "may or may not be the number that's bandied about."

Mattis said once he has the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's plan for Afghanistan, "I'll look at the number we have on the ground, reorganize those on the ground to align with the new strategy, and bring whatever gap fillers I need."

Additional troops will not go to Afghanistan until Mattis signs formal deployment orders, which has not happened yet, officials said.

They added that while the Joint Staff has identified certain units that might be deployed to Afghanistan, those units have not received formal preparation orders.

An estimated 8,400 U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan in an advisory capacity or in counter-terrorism operations against the Taliban and ISIS-Khorasan, the ISIS affiliate in the country.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Foreign policy experts are mixed on how much of President Donald Trump’s speech Monday night on his administration’s Afghanistan policy is new, and how effective it will be in creating stability in the South Asian country.

Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown told ABC News that Trump’s speech “contained many good elements, and also an absolutely fundamental flaw.” His declaration that “we are not nation-building again, we are killing terrorists,” will have an impact on the Afghan government’s accountability, or lack thereof, she said.

“That will be very much read that the U.S. is no longer focused on corruption, power abuses, criminal behavior by government officials and Afghan politicians,” she said, noting that “bad governance in Afghanistan is what gives the Taliban staying power.”

Alyssa Ayres, a senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations says that the direct focus on “killing terrorists” can be viewed as a “pivot to a sort of counterterrorism approach.”

Ayres said that both Trump’s speech last night and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent public comments suggest that part of the motivation in focusing on terrorism is “to create conditions for the Taliban to come to the table and have peace talks.” Administration staffing, however, could present problems moving forward with that plan.

“Right now we have a State Department which has an unprecedented number of unfilled senior positions,” she said. “If diplomacy is your secret to ending the longest U.S. war in history... we need to have our State Department firing on all cylinders.”

Trump was undoubtedly critical of Pakistan Monday night, saying that “we have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change. And that will change immediately.”

Ayres is unconvinced that this is a “fundamental pillar of our new strategy,” as Trump said it was during his speech.

“The president billed this as a new strategy but I actually think that it has much more in keeping with previous strategies,” Ayres said.

Ayres pointed out how Ash Carter, the secretary of defense during the final years of the Obama administration, refused to certify Pakistan as having sufficiently made efforts to thwart the Haqqani network, a known-terror organization that Felbab-Brown explained has safe havens and support in Pakistan, and is the principal anti-government military actor in Afghanistan.

As a result, in 2016, Pakistan did not receive more than $300 million in funds that it’s handed annually for their help with U.S. efforts to combat terrorism. A similar decision by the Pentagon regarding $50 million in funds being withheld from Pakistan was announced this summer under the leadership of current Secretary of State James Mattis.

Felbab-Brown said that in regards to Trump’s speech, it’s “unlikely that Pakistan will adopt such a dramatic change. I think Pakistan might scale down support, but it’s not going to fundamentally abandon its support for militant groups.

“Nor is asking for greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan going to induce Pakistan to give up on its support for terrorist groups. In fact, it could easily make Pakistan even more paranoid and more clinging to the terrorist groups,” she said.

Felbab-Brown is referring to Trump’s mention Monday night of his wishes to “further develop” U.S.-India relations.

He said that “we appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.”

Ayres says that it was “a new approach” to highlight the positive role India has played, and she points out the “close relationship” that India and Afghanistan have.

“I was surprised to hear about India in the Trump plan, because it really elevates India in a way that it hasn’t been elevated in a U.S. conversation,” she said.

All told, Felbab-Brown thinks that the president was overselling the plan, which took longer for his team to reach than initially expected.

“The president says this is a strategy for victory -- I do not think this is a strategy for victory. I think it’s a strategy of avoiding catastrophe, but essentially it’s a strategy of buying us hope,” Felbab-Brown said.

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Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince William and Prince Harry will make a special visit to the Kensington Palace memorial sunken garden to pay tribute to their late mother Princess Diana on Aug. 30, a day before the 20th anniversary of her death.

The brothers, accompanied by Princess Kate, will view the special garden, which has been transformed with their mother's favorite white blooms to commemorate her life.

William, Kate and Harry will be joined by a small group of representatives from a few of the charities Diana supported in the final days of her life, including the Great Ormond Street Hospital, the English National Ballet, the Leprosy Mission, Centrepoint, the Royal Marsden Hospital, where William now serves as royal patron, and the National Aids Trust which Prince Harry has supported with his own AIDS charity, Sentebale, that he set up in his mother's name.

A team of six gardeners and a number of volunteers spent 18 weeks planting the floral tribute of white roses, white Diana tulips, white hyacinth, forget-me-nots and other favorites of Diana. The "White Garden," as it’s known, opened in April.

More than 12,000 bulbs were planted over the winter to create what is now a breathtaking garden outside the home that William shares with his wife and their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as well as the cottage where Harry lives.

William and Harry were just 15 and 12, respectively, when their mother died at age 36 in a car crash in Paris.

For the 20th anniversary of the princess of Wales' death, William and Harry decided it was the appropriate time to remind people of their mother's legacy, and participated in two documentaries about her life.

Both princes have vowed to keep their mother's memory alive and have thrown themselves into various charitable projects that reflect her interests and passions.

William and Kate formed their charity, Heads Together, with Harry to help break down the stigma around mental illness.

The brothers have participated in a series of other projects to commemorate their mother's life. In addition to forming the garden dedicated to Diana, Kensington Palace is holding a special exhibition chronicling her life; the centerpiece of the public exhibit is the desk where Diana organized much of her charitable work. William and Harry have also commissioned a statue of their mother which will be erected on the grounds of Kensington Palace.

One of their biggest challenges now is keeping Diana's memory alive for Prince George and Princess Charlotte. On July 3, on what would have been Diana's 56th birthday, William and Harry held a service of re-dedication at Diana's grave on the island in Round Lake at Althorp, the Spencer family home. Prince George and Charlotte attended the service with Prince William, Princess Kate, and Prince Harry.

"I think constantly talking about Granny Diana. So we've got more photos up 'round the house now of her and we talk about her a bit and stuff," William said recently in an interview for an ITV documentary commemorating his mother's life. "And it's hard because obviously Catherine didn't know her, so she cannot really provide that -- that level of detail. So I do regularly, putting George or Charlotte to bed, talk about her and just try and remind them that there are two grandmothers, there were two grandmothers in in their lives, and so it's important that they know who she was and that she existed."

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Just weeks after North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is offering praise for Kim Jong-un for holding his fire since then, noting that it could be the "beginning" of a pathway to peace talks.

The overture to the outlaw regime came on the same day that the U.S. slapped Chinese and Russian individuals and companies with third-party sanctions for doing business with North Korea.

"I'm pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we've not seen in the past. We hope that this is the beginning of this signal we’ve been looking for," Tillerson said.

The nation’s top diplomat seemed to be trying to encourage North Korea to stay on the path, later noting that "We need to see more on their part."

In particular, Tillerson seemed to credit the unanimous adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on August 5 that target North Korea's revenue sources -- coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, seafood, and the country's guest worker program. Since then, they haven't engaged in "missile launches or provocative acts," he said.

"They are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they are ready to restrain their provocative acts, and then perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the early future having some dialogue," he added.

It has only been two and a half weeks since those sanctions passed – and just three and a half weeks since North Korea's latest missile launch, a second ICBM capable of hitting the continental United States.

In the interim, all signs indicate the secretive country is plowing full steam ahead on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, while engaging in a fiery war of words with President Trump. Trump promised to reign down "fire and fury" on the country if it continues to threaten the U.S. Kim's regime responded with threats to fire ICBM's into the waters surrounding Guam, the U.S. territory in the west Pacific that's home to over 160,000 Americans.

After a week of tension, the two sides both blinked -- Trump responding to the provocative rhetoric from Pyongyang with only verbal arrows of his own; while Kim Jong-un said he would watch the U.S.'s actions before taking any next steps.

The Trump administration is also staying on course for its "peaceful pressure" campaign against the country by ramping up the costs for China and Russia.

The Treasury Department announced new sanctions against 10 entities and six individuals for violating UN sanctions on North Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The move blocks their access to U.S. markets and banks, freezes any assets they have in American jurisdiction, and sends a warning for others not to do business with them as well.

"It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a paper statement. "We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future."

Tuesday's list includes three Chinese coal companies and one of their directors; two Chinese companies and one individual who supported North Korean worker programs overseas, including in Namibia; three Russian executives and two Singapore-based companies for trading oil; one Chinese front company for North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank; and one Chinese company and one Russian company and its executive for trading minerals.

These new slaps on the Russians and Chinese come after both countries helped pass the new UN Security Council sanctions earlier this month, and were showered with praise by Tillerson, U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, and others for their support.

But the U.S. argued even then it maintains the right to use third-party sanctions to ensure the countries followed through.

"The implementation is something that we’ll be tracking and taking action on as necessary," Susan Thornton told reporters in Manila days after the UN vote. "If we see that they are not being implemented, then we will again continue to go after those entities ourselves."

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United States Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both declined to say how many more troops will be deployed in Afghanistan after President Trump's announcement Monday night of his decision to continue the long-running U.S. military engagement there.

"I'd prefer not to go into those numbers right now," Mattis said at a press conference in Baghdad, adding, "There is a number that I'm authorized to go up to."

Mattis said he and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will first put together a plan before announcing the number of additional forces. Once that plan is public, "there will be visibility to troop levels," Tillerson said at a State Department press briefing.

But those numbers will be dictated by conditions on the ground, both men said, and not on political timelines.

"We've obviously been discussing this option for some time," Mattis told reporters. "I'll look at the number we have on the ground, reorganize those on the ground to align with the new strategy and bring whatever gap fillers I need."

Tillerson defended the opacity as an important tactic, arguing that the U.S. needs to be "as cagey and tactical" as the Taliban and other enemy groups. "We have not been fighting that way," he added.

In June, Trump gave Mattis the authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan. Mattis reportedly favors sending in as many as 4,000 additional U.S. forces to push back against gains made by the Taliban and ISIS.

But Mattis suggested Tuesday that he is not locked into a particular number and that the size of the troop increase will be determined based on the plan presented by Dunford.

"It may or may not be the number that's bandied about," Mattis said.

He said in a statement Monday night that he will consult with the NATO secretary-general and directly with U.S. allies "several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers."

Trump on Monday said that the U.S. will forego a timetable for its military operations in Afghanistan and instead let "conditions on the ground" guide U.S. tactics.

Dunford called Trump's strategy "a new approach to Afghanistan and the region."

"Our Afghan partners know that our commitment is strong and enduring," Dunford said in a statement. "Our future presence will be based on conditions and not arbitrary timelines. This new strategy means the Taliban cannot win militarily. Now is the time to renounce violence and reconcile. A peaceful, stable Afghanistan is victory for the Afghan people and the goal of the coalition."

Part of that peaceful, stable Afghanistan will include elements of the Taliban, Tillerson noted. He made clear Tuesday that negotiations with the Islamist fundamentalist group were key to the new strategy.

"We believe -- we already know -- there are certain moderate elements of the Taliban who we think are going to be ready and want to help develop a way forward," he said, adding later that the U.S. no longer believes Afghanistan needs to have a democratic government, as long as it meets America’s security needs.

"Afghanistan and the Taliban representatives need to sit down and sort this out. It’s not for the U.S. to tell them it must be this particular model, it must be under these conditions," he said. Although previous administrations have tried to push democracy in other countries, he said, "In a lot of places, it doesn’t work."

The Afghanistan conflict is America's longest war, lasting close to 16 years so far and costing more than 2,000 American lives. An estimated 8,400 U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan in an advisory capacity or in counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda and ISIS-Khorasan, the ISIS affiliate in the country.

Trump said in his speech on Monday that his "original instinct" was to pull troops out of Afghanistan but that, after taking office and consulting with military leaders, he changed his views.

He warned Monday against a hasty withdrawal that would allow terrorists safe haven, and he criticized the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, completed in 2011, which Trump said led to the rise of ISIS. He also chastised Pakistan for harboring terrorist groups, saying the country has "much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan."

That's a line Tillerson reiterated as well, warning that sanctions against Pakistani officials, revoking Pakistan’s major non-NATO ally status, and even airstrikes in Pakistani territory without their approval are all on the table for the Trump administration.

"It is in Pakistan’s interests to take those actions," and if not, "We're going to attack terrorists wherever they live and we have put people on notice that if you are harboring and providing safe haven to terrorists, be warned."

The nation's top diplomat also issued a warning to Russia, which has reportedly been arming the Taliban in recent months. Tillerson called the action a "violation of international norms" and "UN Security Council norms," but it's unclear what the administration plans to do about it, if anything. President Trump made no mention of Russia -- or Iran, which has also supported the Taliban -- in his address.

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Double Exposure: Investigative Film Festival and Symposium(WASHINGTON) -- A key figure behind the so-called “dossier” featuring uncorroborated and salacious allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia will be questioned by investigators from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about the funding and sources for the document.

During last year’s heated Republican primary race, Fusion GPS, a private research firm founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, was initially paid about a million dollars by wealthy Republicans and then later worked for Democrats, all of whom wanted to dig up dirt on Trump and plant negative news stories, according to political operatives.

Simpson, who will appear in a closed session on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, hired the former MI6 agent Christopher Steele to compile the now infamous “dossier,” which alleged that members of the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian agents to damage Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent.

Republicans in Congress are stepping up their efforts to uncover the funders of and sources for that controversial document and its, so far, largely unverified claims as special counsel Robert Mueller’s high-profile probe of those alleged ties heats up.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has made it clear that Simpson’s work has landed him in the crosshairs.

“We will also pursue details about Mr. Simpson’s role in this event and the creation and circulation of the dossier that started this whole controversy,” Grassley said in hearing in July.

As a reporter, Simpson specialized in coverage of money laundering and Russian organized crime. In an appearance on a panel at a film festival in 2016, Simpson explained that he started Fusion GPS after leaving journalism because he thought his investigative skills would be valuable to a range of wealthy clients.

“What I really like to do is gather documents and put things together in a way that they could be used to expose a crime or right a wrong,” Simpson said. “I call it journalism for rent.”

The 35-page dossier, which included a series of salacious allegations, was completed shortly before the election. Eventually the intelligence Steele had gathered was shared with journalists, the Clinton campaign and the FBI.

When Buzzfeed obtained and published the document in January, little more than a week before of Trump’s inauguration, he was outraged.

“It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen,” Trump said in a press conference. “And it was gotten by opponents of ours, as you know, because you reported it and so did many of the other people. It was a group of opponents that got together -- sick people -- and they put that crap together.”

Simpson isn’t the only person who could face questions about so-called dossier’s production. Lawmakers also want to talk to Steele, the former British spy who actually authored the document, and a recent U.S. court ruling in a related case could compel him to do it.

Lawyers for Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian tech mogul who was initially named in the dossier, were recently granted approval by Judge Ursula Ungaro of U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida to seek British approval to question Steele under oath as part of their libel suit against Buzzfeed.

“I have to ask myself, what is it that they’re hiding,” Valentin Gurvits, Gubarev’s attorney, told ABC News. “To me it is a very strange situation.”

According to people briefed on the developments, Steele has met with the FBI and provided agents with the names of his sources for the allegations in the dossier, but it is unclear how much information lawmakers will be able to obtain from Simpson this week. Attorneys for Fusion GPS have indicated to the committee that its client relationships are confidential.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's new plan for a more open-ended war against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS in South Asia was met with cautious optimism by Retired U.S. Army Maj. Jim Gant, also known as "Lawrence of Afghanistan,” one of the few military strategists who had success in the fight in the region.

Gant -- a legendary Green Beret counterinsurgency innovator who earned a version of the "Lawrence of Arabia" nickname bestowed upon British officer T.E. Lawrence for his famous heroics in the 1916 Arab Revolt -- said he was "encouraged" by the Trump plan.

"There are key ingredients for success in this strategy, which bears the clear imprint of Generals [James] Mattis and [H.R] McMaster," Gant told ABC News on Tuesday, referring to Trump's secretary of defense and national security adviser.

But the retired Special Forces officer, who was once the target of an assassination order issued by al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden because of his success against insurgents in eastern Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012, also warned it will "likely take many more years for this conditions-based, Afghan-led campaign to produce any tangible results on the ground -- let alone the elusive 'win' that Trump is seeking."

"Few details of how it will be executed were revealed," making it hard to fully assess, Gant noted.

The details matter. Troop levels in Afghanistan steadily rose year after year following the 9/11 attacks and the resulting November 2001 U.S. incursion into the Taliban-controlled country by special operations forces, from a few thousand men to more than 100,000 troops at the height of a surge ordered by then-President Barack Obama in 2010.

But adding boots to the war never resulted in tangible strategic gains, as the Taliban -- aided by al-Qaeda and Pakistan's intelligence service -- also sent a growing stream of jihadi fighters into battle.

The only successful U.S.-led counterinsurgency program was a "tribal engagement" strategy championed by Gant, a Silver Star recipient and combat-hardened special operator who wrote a 2009 proposal, "One Tribe At A Time," which caught the attention of Navy SEAL Adm. Eric Olson of U.S. Special Operations Command and Army Gen. David Petraeus, who took command of the war in 2010.

Gant's strategy, which when implemented was called "Village Stability Operations," had special operations forces living inside Pashtun tribal villages in the most contested rural areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan. They were instructed to befriend the tribesmen -- live with them, eat with them, fight with them, bleed with them and even die with them -- to win their loyalty and turn them against the Taliban insurgents. Gant led his own VSO team in Kunar province, long al-Qaeda's primary sanctuary, where insurgents called him ”Commander Jim.” He succeeded in winning over three tribes and thousands of armed fighters there.

"VSO is the only thing bottom-up that ever worked," said another retired Green Beret, Lt. Col. Scott Mann, who designed and led the implementation of the country-wide strategy and later authored, "Game Changers: Going Local to Defeat Violent Extremism."

Despite the program’s success in some of the most contested provinces, the Village Stability Operations program was curtailed and phased out after only two years -- because Obama ordered most troops to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2012.

Gant was relieved of command in 2012 amid concerns about his love affair with then-Washington Post war correspondent Ann Scott Tyson, who is now his wife. As reported in a 2014 ABC News investigation, his commanders claimed he had hidden the fact that Tyson was living with him in a remote village for nearly a year and had stayed out of sight when top VIPs visited his outpost. He was forced to accept a demotion, retirement and even stripped of his Special Forces tab, in spite of his widely-heralded success in unconventional warfare. Tyson wrote a book about her husband, "American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant.”

There are almost 10,000 American forces remaining in Afghanistan today, including thousands of special operators, but most are still restricted from doing anything more than "train and assist" missions with Afghan commandos. Very few counterterrorism missions take place in the country by SEALs and Army Delta Force operators under the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, a senior military official told ABC News.

Mann, however, said Trump's speech left him “underwhelmed" because it amounted to tough talk and few specifics.

"That's when all my 'spidey sense' started going off," Mann said. "This needs to be a fifty to a hundred-year campaign. It requires persistence and presence. Colombia should be a model, not Iraq."

James Sisco, a retired naval intelligence officer who served as U.S. military liaison and adviser to then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was another champion of the short-lived tribal engagement strategy and is also deeply skeptical that adding more U.S. troops again will make a difference.

"Four or five years from now you'll see no change and we will still be talking about it,” Sisco said. “It will make no difference. If you had robust village stability operations, it would be great. But now you're looking at more guys doing 'train and assist,' not trigger-pullers.”

President Trump said conditions on the ground will dictate strategy not timetables, adding that he will relax the military's rules of engagement and demand more of NATO partners. He also called out Pakistan's government, saying it "gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror."

The Trump speech bore remarkable similarities to one given by then-presidential candidate Obama a decade ago, who said in the seventh year of America's longest war that "security is most threatened by the al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary in the tribal regions of northwest Pakistan. Al Qaeda terrorists train, travel, and maintain global communications in this safe-haven."

Little has changed since 2007. Gant agreed that Trump was right to address Pakistan’s duplicity and his pledge as commander-in-chief to give ground force commanders more authorities to take the fight to the enemy "is encouraging."

"The decision to steer clear of timelines and troop numbers was a smart move in terms of the kind of psychological warfare that must be conducted aggressively to slow advances made by the Taliban in recent years," Gant said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Firefighters rescued an infant from the wreckage of a collapsed building in Italy on Tuesday after a 4.0-magnitude ripped through the resort island of Ischia, killing at least two people and injuring dozens.

The 7-month-old baby boy -- along with his older brother and parents -- were rescued early Tuesday morning, several hours after the earthquake first struck the island.

Emergency officials were still working to save a third child, a young boy, who was still trapped under the home’s wreckage as of early Tuesday, Sky TG24 reported.

#22ago 6:00 #Ischia, #vigilidelfuoco #usar al lavoro senza sosta, sempre in contatto con uno dei due bambini sotto le macerie

— Vigili del Fuoco (@emergenzavvf) August 22, 2017

Sky TG24 said the boy was trapped under a bed, but able to communicate with rescue workers through the rubble.

Il momento in cui Mattias è rinato. #vigilidelfuoco #usar scavano per salvare Ciro, prosegue senza sosta il soccorso a #Ischia

— Vigili del Fuoco (@emergenzavvf) August 22, 2017

Ischia, located off the coast of Naples, has a population of about 50,000.

The earthquake knocked over multiple structures in the small communes of Casamicciola and Lacco Ameno.

An elderly woman was reportedly killed by debris falling from a church and authorities found the body of another woman in the rubble of a collapsed building nearby. Authorities said at least 39 people were injured.

Civil Protection officials told Sky TG24 that about 2,600 people could be displaced as a result of the quake.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The narrative and goals for what has become America’s longest war have shifted in the past 16 years, and they may take a new turn Monday night, as President Donald Trump is expected to announce his policy approach for Afghanistan.

The war started in October 2001 in the wake of the September 11th attacks, under then-President George W. Bush, and after Obama, Trump is now the second president to inherit -- and have to make a decision on how to handle -- the ongoing conflict.

When Bush first announced the military action on Oct. 7, 2001, he described “strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.”

"These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime,” Bush said in an address from the Treaty Room of the White House.

The timing of the military action is key, as Bush’s announcement came 27 days after coordinates terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the U.S.

"The very original reason and the impetus was 9/11,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, She notes how the belief that “the Taliban was sheltering al Qaeda” drove the focus on Afghanistan specifically.

"The counterterrorism objective became the dominant principle reason for the effort in Afghanistan,” she added.

Felbab-Brown summarized the Bush team’s initial approach as being, simply put, that they would “’just topple the Taliban and get out’… hence the minimal design of the original operations, the minimal force approach that [then-Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld promoted.”

"But very quickly, even the George W. [Bush] administration realized that this was problematic -- that it wasn’t just enough to topple the Taliban, and that it had to leave behind some sort of stable government. But both the W. administration and the Obama administration, and now the Trump administration have been debating that: what is required of the counter terrorism objective,” she said.

Expanding the goals

Part of the problem has been that the role of the counterterrorism objective expanded, Felbab-Brown said, noting how "a lot of other interests were added as the mission was developing."

One such addition was the fight for and promotion of women's rights in Afghanistan, a cause that became a big part of then-first lady Laura Bush's agenda. She gave the president's weekly radio address on Nov. 17, 2001, on the topic, and it coincided with the release of a report titled "Report on the Taliban's War Against Women" by the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

"Afghan women know, through hard experience, what the rest of the world is discovering: the brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists," Laura Bush said in her radio address.

"Civilized people throughout the world are speaking out in horror -- not only because our hearts break for the women and children in Afghanistan, but also because in Afghanistan we see the world the terrorists would like to impose on the rest of us," she said.

”Not a war of choice”

The theme of the obligation of the war in Afghanistan was seen in speeches by both Bush and Obama. Even in his original Oct. 7 address, Bush said "we did not ask for this mission, but we will fulfill it.”

A similar sentiment was echoed by Obama eight years later, when he called it a war of necessity during a speech to a Veterans of Foreign Wars group.

"We must never forget: this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans,” Obama said in an Aug. 17, 2009, speech. “So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.”

Felbab-Brown notes that this speech was in keeping with a larger contrast that Obama painted between Afghanistan and Iraq, indication that the conflict in Afghanistan is necessary, while the one in Iraq is “the bad war,” she said.

"[Obama] wanted to get out” of Afghanistan, Felbab-Brown said, adding that “he tried” but was unable to, largely because the question of what the goal of the counterterrorism operation was lingered.

"The core interest is still the counterterrorism objective, but how one goes about achieving it has been a major source of debate for W., Obama and now Trump,” she said.

Trump’s exact plans have been unknown since he took office. Because of his lack of specifics on the issue in the past, it is not exactly clear what changes – if any – are called for.

"During the campaign, Trump spoke almost not at all about Afghanistan. It was a non-issue,” she said.

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ABC News(BARCELONA) -- Spanish authorities announced that Younes Abouyaaqoub, the suspected driver in a deadly vehicle attack in Barcelona that killed 13 people, was shot and killed Monday. He was wearing what appeared to be an explosive belt at the time, police said.

Earlier this morning, police named Abouyaaqoub as the driver of a van that plowed down Barcelona's crowded Las Ramblas promenade Thursday, killing 13 and injuring many more.

Si vous avez des informations sur l'attentat terroriste à #Barcelona #Cambrils or 📞937285220

— Mossos (@mossos) August 21, 2017
Authorities say Abouyaaqoub escaped the scene on foot, then carjacked a vehicle, killing the driver, authorities said.

He then ran up against a roadblock south of Barcelona and abandoned the car in Sant Just Desvern, a town not far from the city, authorities said.

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.

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Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- The Kremlin announced Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Anatoly Antonov as Russia’s ambassador to the United States, replacing Sergey Kislyak.

The move comes as the U.S. embassy in Moscow has announced it is suspending all non-immigrant visa processing for Russians until Sept. 1 in response to the staff cuts ordered by the Kremlin.

In a statement on its site, the embassy said operations for all visas applications in Moscow will resume after Sept. 1 but that they will remain suspended indefinitely at the three U.S. consulates elsewhere in the country.

The embassy statement says the step is necessary “due to the Russian government-imposed cap on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded to the announcement today during a press conference, saying, "I think a political factor is obvious to everyone here.” He said he had “just familiarized” himself with the decision and that “we will certainly look into it."

"As for our countermeasures, as I've said, we should take a closer look at the decisions that the Americans have announced today,” Lavrov said. “We'll see. I can only say one thing: We won't take it out on American citizens.”

He added: "That is, if someone hoped that a bad example would be contagious in this case, they are mistaken.”

On July 28 Russia ordered the U.S. embassy to cut its staff by 755 in retaliation for the U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow by Congress. The State Department hasn’t confirmed the numbers, but it’s believed that the embassy employs around 1,300 people; however, only around 400 employees are American. U.S. officials have said the cuts would fall primarily on Russian local hires and that this would almost certainly affect visa operations at the embassy.

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US Navy/Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez(WASHINGTON) -- A Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, collided with a commercial vessel east of Singapore early Monday morning local time, the Navy said.

There were 10 sailors missing and five injured, the Navy said.

The collision with the merchant ship Alnic MC occurred east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, as the McCain was on its way for a routine port visit in Singapore, the Navy said.

"Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft," the Navy said, adding that a search and rescue mission was already underway.

The ship is currently sailing under its own power and heading to port, according to a Navy statement.

The search and rescue effort was being aided by tug boats out of Singapore, as well as the Singapore Navy ship RSS Gallant, Singapore navy helicopters and a Police Coast Guard vessel.

MV-22 Ospreys and SH-60 Seahawks from the USS America are also responding, the Navy said.

Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, tweeted: "Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew. As more information is learned, we will share it."

Malaysia's navy chief Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin tweeted a photo of the damaged ship on its way to Singapore after the collision, and announced that the country was sending ships and aircraft to assist in the search and rescue.


Navy, Airforce and MMEA ships and aircrafts tasked to assist in #USSJohnSMcCain SAR off Johor

— Chief of Navy - PTL (@mykamarul) August 21, 2017


The John S. McCain, which has a crew of 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers and 291 sailors, is based at the 7th Fleet's homeport of Yokosuka, Japan, according the Navy's website.

Sen. John McCain tweeted that he and his wife Cindy McCain "are keeping America's sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight - appreciate the work of search & rescue crews." The ship is named for both his grandfather, John Sidney McCain Sr., and his father, John Sidney McCain Jr.

This latest incident comes just two months after the USS Fitzgerald's collision with a Philippine-flagged container ship in the middle of the night off the coast of Japan. Seven U.S. sailors lost their lives in that incident and just last week the Navy relieved the USS Fitzgerald's commanding officer, executive officer and senior enlisted sailor for mistakes that led to a deadly crash.

In May, the USS Lake Champlain, a guided missile cruiser, collided with a fishing boat in the Sea of Japan. There were no injuries. The Navy ship tried to alert the fishing boat before the collision but it was too late.

In February, the USS Antietam, also a guided missile cruiser, ran aground off the coast of Japan, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water.

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JAVED TANVEER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump is set to deliver a primetime address to the American people on Monday night, outlining the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

The president was presented with a variety of options, including withdrawing all American troops or adding 3,900 more to the current 8,400 total.

Here is a look at the options considered by the Trump administration for what is now being called the South Asia strategy.

What is the South Asia strategy?

The Trump administration has been debating for months what strategy to pursue in Afghanistan. The debate originally focused on the U.S. military's role in Afghanistan and a request for additional American troops to advise and assist the Afghan military fighting the Taliban and the ISIS affiliate in that country.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress in June that he believed the administration would formulate its Afghanistan strategy by mid-July.

But that deadline came and went because Trump's national security team debated whether the strategy should be broader in scope.

It has evolved into what is now known as the South Asia strategy, and it includes the regional implications for neighboring countries like Pakistan, India, China and Russia. The strategy would also look at what role these countries can play in reversing Taliban gains on the battlefield.

Mattis told reporters Thursday that a Camp David meeting with Trump's national security team will "move this toward a decision." Mattis, however, did not say that a final decision would be made on Friday, only noting that a decision will occur in "the very near future."

Will more American troops head to Afghanistan?

A lot of the attention initially focused on whether the Trump administration would add more U.S. troops.
In February, Gen. John Nicholson, the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Congress the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan was "a stalemate" and that he would like additional troops to enhance the advise and assist mission being carried out by 8,400 American troops and 5,000 NATO forces.

Those troops would buttress the advise and assist mission helping the Afghan military fighting the Taliban, as well as add additional firepower to the counterterrorism mission against ISIS and al Qaeda.
U.S. officials have said that Mattis favors a Pentagon proposal to send 3,900 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

One official said as recently as this week that recommendations were still being made as to what kinds of U.S. military support those additional troops could provide.

But Mattis has been firm that the debate over an Afghanistan strategy should be more than just a decision about whether or not to send more American troops.

Military officials are now evaluating whether neighboring countries can play a role in the strategy. For example, it’s clear the administration wants Pakistan to do more on its side of the border to take on the resurgent Taliban and ISIS-Khorasan.

The internal debate has also broadened into a discussion of whether American troops should remain in Afghanistan.

What are the options?

Last week, Trump said he would be making a decision soon on Afghanistan.

"I've been looking at it," he said. "It's our longest war in history, 17 years. That's unacceptable."
Trump is said to have been dissatisfied with the original strategy review and the request for more American troops, one reason why his national security team has developed additional options.

Mattis said on Monday the Pentagon is still working on options for the president.

"We're sharpening each one of the options, so you can see the pluses and minuses of each one," Mattis said. "So that there's no longer any new data you're going to get."

Another option would shift a portion of the U.S. military role to private military contractors.

When asked specifically about that option, Mattis responded, "It's part of the options being considered, and the president's open to the advice of the secretary of state and myself and the director of the CIA."

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iStock/Thinkstock(BARCELONA) -- Spanish authorities are still searching for the man they suspect of driving the white van that plowed down pedestrians in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday, killing more than a dozen.

An official said clothing seen on Younes Abouyaaqoub on CCTV 18 hours before the attack matched descriptions given by eyewitnesses, which led police to believe he was the driver in the attack.

Authorities believe the suspect may have fled the country after allegedly using his credit card to pay for the three vehicles involved in the attack. According to police, Abouyaaqoub's ID was found in the van that crashed into a crowd of people.

Police have heightened security on both sides of the border with France as the manhunt continues, with a greater police presence at major tourist spots.

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