The U.S. Department of State recently announced plans to establish its Foreign Affairs Security Training Center, known as FASTC, on 1,500 acres at Fort Pickett in Virginia’s Nottoway County.
U.S. diplomats are currently trained at multiple sites across the nation. In May 2008, Congress identified the need to consolidate training at one facility to improve efficiencies and cost savings.
After a multi-year search, Fort Pickett was selected as the best site over 70 other properties because it met DOS’ operational requirements and offered close proximity to D.C. agencies and the intelligence community.
FASTC will train approximately 8,000 – 10,000 U.S. ambassadors and diplomats sent to foreign countries, sometimes in dangerous locations. The center will initially focus on hard skills training, which includes detecting surveillance, providing emergency medical care, identifying explosive devices, firearms training, and performing defensive driving maneuvers. The 2012 attacks in Benghazi highlight the importance of this training for the U.S. foreign affairs community.
Fort Pickett is the perfect location because the 46,000-acre campus offers plenty of land and a secure environment to build driving tracks, mock urban environments, and firing and explosive ranges. Fort Pickett was established in 1942 and currently serves as the Maneuver Training Center for the Virginia National Guard. While the land is predominantly in Nottoway County, it covers parts of Brunswick and Dinwiddie Counties.
This project is expected to be transformative for the Nottoway County region. The DOS is currently estimating a hard-skills facility will bring $461 million in investment to the area, not to mention additional jobs both onsite and in the community through the multiplier effect.
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and a group of federal, state and local officials recently visited Fort Pickett to tour the future site of FASTC. The Administration continues to work through budgetary issues and must complete an updated master plan and environmental impact study before construction can begin.
Virginia’s selection as the site for the FASTC project illustrates how the Commonwealth provides the right location, infrastructure and workforce for both public and private entities. To learn more click here.
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and a group of federal, state and local officials tour the future site of FASTC at Fort Pickett in Nottoway County, Va. Photo courtesy of Virginia National Guard Public Affairs/Cotton Puryear.