A reader asked yesterday about training of foreign military at Little Rock Air Force Base.
As a Base article in 2016 reported, LRAFB, a major airlift facility, is believed to run the largest international flight training program in the country, at that time training some 1,300 pilots annually, including about 200 from dozens of foreign allies.
Training of foreign students has become an issue in Congress and elsewhere following the attack by a Saudi Arabian student at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. The Pentagon announced that it is suspending flight training and other operational exercises for some 850 Saudi students currently in the U.S. while it reviews how th screening of foreign students and how they gain access to bases.
Prompted by the reader’s question, I asked LRAFB about that Pentagon review, including a question about the number of students in training at the base currently.
The base public affairs provided this prepared statement:
“The 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base currently has 29 international students from various partner nations attending training. Out of respect for our diverse student cultures, we do not release the specifics of how many students we have from each country. We are focused on forging the world’s most expertly trained, professionally competent, and combat effective tactical airlifters. The safety and well-being of all of our students remains a top priority.”
UPDATE: I received this response to a followup question:
We currently do not have any Saudi students in training here at Little Rock Air Force Base and have not had any for the last few years.
The base also provided an official statement from the Air Education and Training Command about a pause for training for Saudi students:
“Given the traumatic events, we feel it best to keep our Royal Saudi Air Force students off the flying schedule for a short time. We are ensuring our Saudi students have access to available resources to help them deal with the circumstances. The safety and wellbeing of all our aircrew, including our international students is a top priority.”
I recommend contacting AETC Public Affairs if you have any additional questions at this time regarding the training pause for Saudi students.