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US bans foreign soldiers from having personal firearms in camp

The US Navy's Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis seen during a training excercise [Lt. Steve Smith/US Navy Hanout/Getty Images]
The US Navy's Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis seen during a training excercise [Lt. Steve Smith/US Navy Hanout/Getty Images]

Foreign soldiers who serve and train with the US Navy and US Marine Corps are soon to be banned from buying and carrying personal weapons while on American military bases. The move follows fears stoked by a Saudi airman’s shooting spree on a US base last year.

According to the American website Military.com, international service participants from foreign countries who reside at naval and USMC bases will be obliged to sign agreements on the new rules and regulations before 15 April and 1 May, otherwise their Pentagon-sponsored visas or other travel permits will be revoked. The regulations include the family members of foreign troops, who will also have to sign the agreement if they are over the age of 18.

“Failure to do so will result in immediate expulsion from training or school, and orders generated for immediate transfer back to their home country, to include accompanying family members,” the USMC has said.

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Foreign troops will in future, therefore, only be permitted to use firearms issued by US personnel on the bases, and only within designated periods. According to an unclassified message released by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly on Thursday last week, “IMS [international military students] are authorised use of government furnished firearms and ammunition when specifically required for official training off of [sic] a DON [Department of Navy] installation but under the control of the DON, and aboard DON installations or property.”

The new set of regulations that prohibits them “to possess, use, transport or store” weapons comes after a mass shooting on 6 December last year carried out by Royal Saudi Air Force Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani at the Pensacola base in Florida. The attack was classed as “an act of terrorism” allegedly “motivated by jihadist ideology”.

This ignited fears among US military personnel and the general public that foreign – particularly Saudi and other Middle Eastern – troops who regularly train in the US could be a threat. Following the Pensacola shooting, it was discovered that Alshamrani had been able to avoid gun laws that prohibit foreigners with non-immigrant visas from purchasing firearms in the US. He simply obtained a hunting licence which allowed him to buy the semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine which he used in the attack.

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