Army Adapts to Fewer Troops in Europe

But all eyes are on the Caspian Sea and the eastern Mediterranean Sea as the next big thing in natural gas for energy-hungry Europe and Asia. RECOMMENDED: Fracking. Tight oil. Do you know your energy vocabulary? The trouble is, getting gas from the myriad countries eager to sell to Europe is easier said than done. Delicate geopolitics, civil unrest, crooked deals, and the sheer logistics of transporting the gaseous fuel stand in the way.The most probable alternative to Russian gas might be right under Europeans’ noses. Ultimately, the trend is toward a more diverse gas mix for Europe, experts say. It just may not happen anytime soon, and it’s unclear who stands to benefit. “No one will win, Russia will just lose,” wrote Daniel Freifeld,founder of Permian International, an investment firm specializingin energy and infrastructure. That has less to do with who builds the biggest pipeline to Europe and more to do with broader economics and politics, according to Mr. Freifeld, whopreviously served as senior adviser to the special envoy for Eurasian energy at the US Department of State . “Europe could win slightly with liberalization of third party access, unbundling, … and construction of interconnectors,” Freifeld wrote in an e-mail, “but I don’t believe any particular state is going to ‘win.'” Don’t tell that to Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan or any of the five countries bordering the Caspian Sea. There’s 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves in the region, according to the US Energy Information Administration. But it takes a lot of investment to move the product from the Caspian to distant markets, and Russia will do all it can to squelch potential competition from the former Soviet satellites. Turkey is littered with abandoned dreams of pipelines through a “Southern Gas Corridor” that would connect eastern Europe with the Caspian region and the Middle East . The best bet is on theTrans-Adriatic Pipeline, which this summer was selected to deliver gas from Azerbaijan via Greece, Albania, Italy, and onto Western Europe.

“Times have changed,” Campbell said of the evolving U.S. military commitment to Europe. “But that doesn’t mean Europe is not important. It’s a great launching pad to get to different parts of the world,” he said. Campbell said an Army force of 32,000 could still accomplish the mission of shoring up NATO, providing for Europe’s security and being ready to respond to contingencies, particularly in support of Army Gen. David Rodriguez as head of the Africa command. One of Campbell’s main tasks now was in supporting the 400 U.S. troops manning Patriot missile batteries in Turkey to defend the NATO ally against the threat of air attack from Syria. USAEUR’s 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) and 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, joined by the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery (3-2 ADA) based at Fort Sill, Okla., and the 32nd AAMDC from Fort Bliss, Tex., were scheduled to stay in Turkey at least through January, Campbell said. During military exercises in Croatia last month, Campbell suggested that more joint efforts with NATO partners could alleviate the impact of the budget cuts. “I have a vision that we can bring in more nations to the exercises we host and that they become more joint — Army, Navy, Air Force from the different nations,” Campbell said.

Europe’s public health disaster: How austerity kills

Riot police walk past blazing flames in Athens on August 16, 2013, as they clash with protesters during a demonstration.

Since 2008 there has been a rise of more than 40% of people who report being unable to access healthcare that they believe to be medically necessary, the majority concentrated in pensioners. As patients cannot afford private care and forego preventive care, public sector hospitals have experienced a 24% rise in hospital admissions. Doctors and clinics are therefore overstrained. Infant mortality rates have risen 40% between 2008 and 2010 . Merkel: Shouldn’t have let Greece in EU Over 35,000 public health workers, nurses, and doctors have lost jobs. Unemployment rates have hit 27% and youth unemployment has jumped to near 75% in some areas . German FM: Greece needs until 2022 With little hope for the future, desperate people are turning to cheap, synthetic drugs. Use of anti-depressants has skyrocketed, adding costs to the healthcare system. Suicide rates, previously among the lowest in Europe, have soared. Baker: Without dollar, we’d be Greece Were these all inevitable consequences of recession, rather than consequences of austerity? Of course the Greek financial and political elites have made mistakes. And of course Greece’s fiscal and monetary options were severely restricted as part of the bailout deals.