Pentagon Sends Mixed Signals on Exchange Programs After Pensacola

Esper says review ordered, but generals downplay chance of changes

After Friday’s shooting in Pensacola, in which a 2nd Lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force killed three people, there are questions as far as what this will mean for the foreign officer exchange program through which he was in the US. The Pentagon is offering conflicting signals on where this is going.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday that there is going to be a review of the program’s vetting process, saying he wants to make sure that the existing program is sufficient. He said that the US was not willing to end the program because it is used to build “long term relationships” in other nations’ militaries.

Top generals, on the other hand, dismissed the idea of changes, saying they have no reservations about continuing to send US troops to Saudi Arabia, and bringing Saudi troops here.

While some in Congress have questions about what happened in Pensacola, particularly the gunman’s ability to get a gun, the Pentagon’s message is that nothing substantial is going to change, other than at most some minor superficial changes to the vetting process.

Florida’s governor said there would be a lot of questions about the foreign nationals, but that the Saudi government would clear a lot of this up by making thing better for the victims.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of