DoD restricts firearms, base access, and travel for foreign military students training in the US

popular

Naval Air Station Pensacola provides security for the Active investigation area onboard NAS Pensacola.

U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Dan Mennuto

The Defense Department announced on Friday that training would resume for international military students — once some additional policies and security measures were put in place.


"Going forward we will put several new policies and security procedures in place to protect our people, programs, and installations. These include new restrictions on international military students for possession and use of firearms, and control measures for limiting their access to military installations and U.S. government facilities," Garry Reid, director for defense intelligence, told reporters on Friday.

"We will also impose new standards for training and education on detecting and reporting insider threats, and establish new vetting procedures that include capabilities for continuous monitoring of international military students while enrolled in U.S.-based training programs."

The new policies are a result of a review of vetting procedures for foreign students, which was started after the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in December — when a Saudi student studying in the U.S. killed four people, including himself — and the following expulsion of 21 other Saudi students over jihadi content and child pornography.

Restrictions will not be tailored to the students' home countries.

A senior defense official further explained the new policies, saying the department would be "fully implementing" a system called the Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS), which aims to "prevent unauthorized access to facilities and installations."

As for firearm restrictions, the official said there is "not a current policy specific to the international military students," and that the restriction will bar students from purchasing firearms in the U.S.

On an installation level, commanders will be implementing travel restrictions based on the location of the installation, population size, and training parameters.

"Any military member knows that you may be at one base and the restriction on weekend travel without taking leave is 300 miles, but if there's a major city that people go to on a regular basis that's 310 miles, that local commander has the ability to expand that a little bit to give an equal additional mobility without really getting away from the intent of the guidance to have people available," the defense official said.

Foreign students will now also undergo "continuous vetting and screening" while they are in the U.S. for training.

While some of the new policies are in response to the Pensacola shooting, an official emphasized that they are not all directly related to that incident, especially because some of the new policies may not have stopped the shooting. For example, the credentialing policy that will restrict access on-base to foreign students would not have impacted the Pensacola shooter, because he was on a base, and in a facility, which he was authorized to have access to.

The official said that the department has received "strong support" from partner nations regarding the new policies, and that they are "not asking anything we wouldn't ask of ourselves."

"All current and future students will be required to acknowledge their willingness to abide by these standards," Reid said. "Committing to full compliance with all U.S. laws on- and off-duty as a condition of their enrollment."

A U.S. Army UH-60L Black Hawk crew chief with the New Jersey National Guard's 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion stands for a portrait at the Army Aviation Support Facility on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Feb. 3, 2020 (Air National Guard photo / Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.

Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.

Read More
Army recruiters hold a swearing-in ceremony for over 40 of Arkansas' Future Soldiers at the Arkansas State Capital Building. (U.S. Army/Amber Osei)

Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.

Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.

"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.

Read More
In this June 16, 2018 photo, Taliban fighters greet residents in the Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.

Read More
A screen grab from a YouTube video shows Marines being arrested during formation at Camp Pendleton in July, 2019. (Screen capture)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.

Read More
A soldier reunites with his daughter at Fort Bragg, N.C. after returning from the Middle East. The 82nd Airborne Division's Immediate Response Force had been deployed since New Years Eve. Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (U.S. Army via Associated Press)

Some Fort Bragg paratroopers who left for the Middle East on a no-notice deployment last month came home Thursday.

About 3,500 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team were sent to Kuwait beginning Jan. 1 as tensions were rising in the region. The first soldiers were in the air within 18 hours of being told to go.

Read More