Pentagon Placing New Restrictions on International Military Students

The Pentagon is placing new restrictions on all international military students at American bases in response to a December shooting by a Saudi trainee that killed three sailors in Florida.

Garry Reid, director of defense intelligence at the Pentagon, said the restrictions would include limits to students' ability to possess and use firearms, along with control measures limiting their access to military installations and U.S. government facilities.

Act of terrorism

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice called the December 6 attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola an act of terrorism.

Twenty-one Saudi trainees were returned to Saudi Arabia after an investigation found they had either jihadist sentiments on social media pages or contact with child pornography. Officials did not accuse any of them of having advance knowledge of the shooting or helping the gunman.

Updated software will help

Senior defense officials say the U.S. military will more closely control foreign trainees' access to facilities on military bases by using a software application known as the Defense Bio-metric Identification System, which could code foreign students' access credentials to prohibit their entry into buildings not used for their training.

Trainees will now be continuously monitored while enrolled in U.S.-based training programs, according to a defense official.

"When these procedures are in place, the military departments will be authorized to fully resume the training that has been suspended since the attack at Pensacola," Reid said. That suspension has applied to about 850 Saudi trainees.

Updated policies for current and new students

The new policies will be applicable to all current student populations in addition to new students.

In the last 20 years, more than a million students have gone through the United States' International Military Students program.

There were no "serious security incidents" until the December 6 shooting in Pensacola, according to defense officials. During that attack, Saudi Air Force officer Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, killed three U.S. sailors and injured eight other people.

Source: Voice of America