Diplomatic Security Service Prepares to Open New Foreign Affairs Security Training Center

The Diplomatic Security Service is counting down the final days until the opening of their brand new Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) in Blackstone, Virginia. The training center has been under construction since 2016, following the purchase of 1,400 acres for the project in 2015.

In May 2008, the Department of State wrote to Congress requesting the FASTC to improve training efficiency, decrease operating costs, and provide priority access to training venues that meet adequate standards. The letter identified the need for a consolidated foreign affairs security training facility.

According to the Department of State, “This training will help the foreign affairs community develop the practical skills necessary to operate in today’s overseas environment. At FASTC, trainees learn how to detect surveillance, provide emergency medical care, better recognize improvised explosive devices, increase firearms abilities, and perform defensive driving maneuvers. Such training improves security and safety for the protection of Department of State personnel working abroad.”

On a tour last month, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Michael Evanoff, FASTC Director Robert Weitzel, and Director of the U.S. Secret Service James Murray explored the new facility and its features.

The tour led the leaders through several portions of the facility including a tour of the Tactical Maze Building, a walkthrough in the Static Pad/Smokehouse, a driving tour of the track and the mock embassy, and a visit to the Vehicle Maintenance Facility.

Each year, the FASTC is expected to be used to train 10,000 students, including DSS special agents, other Foreign Service personnel, other U.S. government employees assigned to U.S. embassies and consulates, and some foreign nationals. 

Partial courses will begin in mid-November with the full training center opening later in 2019.

According to the tour release, “During the tour, Assistant Secretary Evanoff pointed out the importance of training in saving lives. He highlighted, as an example, the critical role that training plays for special agents with the DSS Office of Mobile Security Deployments (MSD). MSDs defend U.S. embassies and consulates in critical threat situations; train security personnel at U.S. embassies and consulates to enhance security and handle threats; and also augment the U.S. Secretary of State’s protective security detail with tactical support teams during trips to austere environments overseas.”

When fully in operation, the FASTC will offer MSDs advanced tactical firearms training, defensive tactics instructor training, counter-terrorist driving skills, dynamic room entry, land navigation, and other hard-skills training.

As Assistant Secretary Evanoff put it, “You come out of MSD training and you are a Swiss army knife.”

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