When Lt. Col. Jeffrey Knudson was a young boy, he enjoyed watching the “A-Team” on television and playing with his GI Joe action figure.
Both activities convinced Knudson that he wanted to be a Soldier when he grew up.
“I had no idea what it meant,” said Knudson, Fort Meade’s new provost marshal and director of the Directorate of Emergency Services.
But when he was a junior in high school, Knudson attended an informational seminar on admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and his destiny was set.
“It all worked out,” he said.
Knudson, who officially began his tenure on June 9, replaces Lt. Col. Seamus Garrett, who served for one year and is now assigned to the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Cleveland.
For the past three years, Knudson served as the analysis cell chief for Fort Meade’s Asymmetric Warfare Group.
Knudson said he is happy to be at the helm of DES.
“I’ve got great folks in charge of each division,” he said, noting that the directorate’s military and civilian police, firefighters, dispatchers, security staff and gate guards are all led by highly competent subject-matter experts.
“It’s not my job to do their jobs,” Knudson said. “I want to make sure to get them everything they need to do their jobs, as far as resources, and do we have the right training for our workforce.”
Meeting The Mission
Knudson was commissioned into the Military Police Corps at West Point in May 1998. He said that while attending West Point, he joined the Law Enforcement Tactics Club, which had a relationship with the FBI office in New York City.
Through the club, Knudson trained with police officers from New York State and visit the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va.
Knudson said the exposure to the FBI piqued his interest in a career in law enforcement.
After graduating from West Point, he completed the MP Officer Basic Course and was assigned as a platoon leader in the 504th MP Battalion at Fort Lewis, Wash., in 1998.
Born in Boise, Idaho, Knudson grew up in Westlake, near Cleveland, where his father was a civil engineer. During his sophomore year in high school, the family moved to Puyallup, Wash., and Knudson fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.
“I consider my home to be Seattle,” he said.
Although his family eventually returned to Westlake for his senior year in high school, Knudson purposely chose Fort Lewis as his first duty station when he completed officer basic training.
In 2003, Knudson deployed to South Korea for a year as the training officer with the 94th MP Battalion.
When he returned, Knudson served as the assistant plans officer with the 42nd MP Brigade at Fort Lewis and became the company commander of the 571st MP Company in 2006.
Knudson deployed to Iraq in 2006, and when he returned nearly a year later, he was promoted to major and served as the S3 for the provisional brigade headquarters of the 42nd MP Brigade.
In 2010, Knudson attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and a year later became an operational adviser for AWG. During the next six years, Knudson held several duty positions within AWG leading up to his position as the chief of the analysis cell.
Knudson comes to DES at a time when the Army is reducing resources while Fort Meade is expanding.
Priorities In Place
Construction at the Rockenbach Road gate is underway, and intersection improvements at the Mapes Road gate and Reece Road gate along Route 175 are scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2018.
“The men and women of DES are professionals who try to keep everybody safe from people who don’t have a reason to be on the installation,” Knudson said.
With Fort Meade’s expansion, DES will be challenged with more tasks and possible less staff and money to meet the Army’s mission.
But Knudson is determined; he plans to compose a strategic plan for DES.
Although he is only a few week into the job, he does have priorities. First, Knudson wants to ensure that his staff has the right gear, equipment and technology to do their jobs.
For example, Knudson said he wants to firmly establish DES’ way-ahead to sustain the police with body cameras.
He said that the police in the District of Columbia and Baltimore are equipped with body cameras and they may be similarly valuable for Fort Meade.
The use of body cameras, Knudson said, can “protect us and others.”
“It’s an argument that is beneficial to everyone involved,” he said.
Construction at the installation’s security gates will mean the expansion of major entry points from two to four lanes.
Knudson said there may not be enough security guards to adequately cover the gates, so DES may require additional Automated Identification Entry machines to check IDs, as well as license plate readers.
Training is also important, said Knudson, who plans to explore additional training avenues for his staff.
Knudson is also interested in forging new relationships with law enforcement agencies, fire departments and other agencies outside Fort Meade.
“We have solid positive relationships with the surrounding communities,” he said.
They include: Anne Arundel County Police, Anne Arundel County Fire Department, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Maryland State Police.
Knudson said he wants to look into the other agencies and organizations that are not affiliated with DES.
Finally, Knudson wants to put a face on DES.
“We’ve got phenomenal people who are doing amazing things that the public may not be aware of,” he said. “The public needs to know what we are doing every day on their behalf to keep them safe.”
“Cops, guards, firefighters are people too,” Knudson said. “… I want to make sure they get recognition.”