The Pentagon orders operational training pause for all Saudi students in the US after NAS Pensacola shooting

The main gate at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Navy Boulevard in Pensacola, Fla.

  • The Pentagon has ordered a pause on operational training for all Saudi military personnel training in the US in the wake of the Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting.
  • The move will limit training for all 852 Saudi students training at US military facilities to the classroom, pending the completion of a review of relevant vetting and security procedures.
  • This decision follows a deadly shooting Friday in which a member of the Saudi military killed three and injured several others at NAS Pensacola.
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The Department of Defense has ordered a pause on operational training for all Saudi military personnel training in the US as the department conducts a review in the wake of the deadly shooting last Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola, according to a DoD memo.

Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist, at the order of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, issued a memo Tuesday calling for the department to take "immediate steps to strengthen personnel vetting" for international military students and complete a review within 10 days of "policies and procedures for screening foreign students and granting access to our bases."

"Pending the completion of a security and safety stand-down," he wrote, "training of KSA students at US installations will be limited to the classroom."

The Pentagon notes that the US has trained more than 28,000 Saudi students "without serious incident," but the "tragic loss of life" that occurred last Friday has led the department to reassess its security procedures. The latest move will affect all 852 Saudi students currently training in the US.

The decision follows an earlier decision by the Navy to suspend flight training for more than 300 Saudi military aviation students at three different Navy facilities, namely NAS Pensacola, NAS Whiting Field, and NAS Mayport as part of an ongoing safety stand-down and operational pause that began Monday.

Last Friday, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Saudi military in the US for training, shot and killed three US Navy sailors and injured several more people at NAS Pensacola before he was neutralized by local law enforcement. Those killed included Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, and Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, from Enterprise.

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