Pentagon suspends military training of leading Islamic country soldiers
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon announced Tuesday it was temporarily suspending operational training for Saudi military students in the United States following a shooting rampage last week by a Saudi air force officer.
Saudi Arabian military students in the United States will continue classroom instruction but operational training is halted pending a security review, senior Defense Department officials said. Mohammed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old lieutenant in the Saudi Royal Air Force, opened fire in a classroom at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida on Friday, killing three American sailors and wounding eight other people before being shot dead by police.
Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist ordered a review to be completed, within 10 days, of policies for screening foreign students. The suspension of operational training applies to all members of the Saudi military currently undergoing training in the United States. “The ones that are pilots will be grounded,” an official said.
Pentagon officials said the security study was being done with the cooperation of the Saudi government. The policy review will apply to all international military students but the suspension of operational training only applies to Saudi students, they said.
Pentagon officials did not provide a figure for the number of Saudis currently undergoing military training in the US but they said the overall number of international military students is between 5,000 and 5,100.
Meanwhile, a shooting in a New York suburb not far from the Statue of Liberty left a police officer dead on Tuesday, and reports said several other people may have been killed during two hours of gunfire. — Agencies.