CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Fewer crimes were attributed to members of the 32,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea this year than during the same period last year, according to U.S. Forces Korea.

USFK spokesman Dave Oten released provost marshal statistics — based on offenses, not convictions — that showed a total of 3,574 crimes between January and June compared with 4,740 for that period in 2004: a 25 percent reduction.

Oten said several factors — including a 12 percent reduction in troops on the peninsula when nearly 4,000 2nd Infantry Division soldiers deployed to Iraq — played into the reduction in crimes.

He also credited improved training for newly arrived troops in South Korea.

“The education programs, both cultural awareness and awareness of South Korean sensitivities, have had a lot to do with it,” he said. “We are continually examining our programs to effect positive change in the way our soldiers are perceived by people in South Korea.”

Another factor is a USFK ban on driving personal vehicles for most military personnel of ranks E-1 through E-6, Oten said.

The command implemented the rule in April 2004 in response to a “significant increase of military driving under the influence (DUI),” Oten said. In 2003, 52 of the 77 military drunken driving offenses were committed by E-5s and E-6s. There were 2,725 cars registered to drivers of those ranks on July 1, 2004 but only 1,119 as of July 1 this year.

The drop in crime goes against recent publicity over several violent incidents involving U.S. soldiers that prompted USFK deputy commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell to order a series of initiatives aimed at minimizing future occurrences.

The initiatives included joint patrols between U.S. military police and Korean National Police, increased “leader presence” in entertainment districts, an extensive review of procedures for granting off-base pass privileges and more “good neighbor” training for U.S. soldiers, Campbell said in a statement.

The rap sheet

Personal crimes — Includes murder, assault, robbery, forgery, being absent without leave, disorderly conduct and other violations of orders and regulations

2004 — 1,1502005 — 713Drug crimes

2004 — 242005 — 24Suicidal acts

2004 — 24 (including one death)2005 — 24 (including three deaths)Property crime — Such as larceny, burglary, shoplifting, and black marketing

2004 — 2,5622005 — 2,101Traffic accidents

2004 — 8702005 — 679Drunken driving

2004 — 1102005 — 33Source: USFK

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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