DOD Updates Vetting Procedures for Foreign Students

The Defense Department will announce updates to the vetting process for foreign military students “in the coming days,” the assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs said.

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper will visit Pensacola Naval Air Station and U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Florida on Jan. 22-23, Jonathan Rath Hoffman told members of the Pentagon press corps during a news conference today.

During his visit, the secretary will provide an update to air station leaders on the new vetting and security procedures following the shooting there last month by a military student from Saudi Arabia, Hoffman said.

Vetting had previously been handled by the home country of the students, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. “We’ve taken an enhanced look on how we can use our resources to do enhanced vetting,” he said. “We owe that to our people and owe that to the families, but we also want to ensure that this program continues.”

Hoffman said that DOD considers the international military training program “incredibly valuable,” noting that more than a million students from about 150 countries have trained in the U.S. over the program’s 20-year life “and until the Pensacola shooting, we’ve never had a serious security incident.”

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Author: Dian Welle