TAEGU, South Korea — Physical fitness and “tough, realistic” battle training are high priorities, says the Army’s new military police commander in lower South Korea.

Ensuring servicemember and installation safety is also high on the list, says Lt. Col. Steven L. Crowe, 728th Military Police Battalion commander.

“I want soldiers who are physically fit and can accomplish the basic skills: move, shoot and communicate,” Crowe said, adding he wants to maintain and improve ties with South Korean units.

As the unit’s commanding officer, Crowe is the Army’s chief law-enforcement officer for Area IV, the Army’s lower South Korea district.

Crowe, 40, replaced Lt. Col. Jeffrey A. Mello on June 11. Mello had led the battalion since June 2001.

“With the military police mission and the training piece, it’s a very delicate juggling act,” Crowe said. “The biggest priority we have is protecting the force.”

Force protection efforts will include measures to thwart terrorists and those who might seek to breach an installation, he said.

Crowe will continue the Army’s emphasis on providing South Korea-based military police increased battle-oriented training using live ammunition, he said.

A veteran of the 1989 Panama invasion and 1991 Gulf War, Crowe said exposing troops to the sounds of live fire during training can help them hold steady in actual combat. Instead of freezing when the real thing hits, they’re more likely to “be able to sight down on the enemy and pull the trigger,” he said.

“I’ve seen it from the Scud attacks in Saudi Arabia to getting shot at in Panama,” Crowe said. “It’s a lot different than in training. The best thing that you can do is ... tough, realistic training.”

Crowe called ties already established between the battalion and South Korean units “a relationship that needs to be maintained and fostered as much as possible.”

Besides live-fire and other training with those units, the battalion will share meals and social occasions, he said.

Crowe completed the FBI National Academy, Army Command and General Staff school, and the Army’s Airborne and Ranger schools.

A North Carolina native, the 1984 graduate of Appalachian State University has a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University.

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