U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine along with U.S. Representatives Randy Forbes and Robert Hurt applauded today's announcement that Fort Pickett, Virginia will be the location for a new Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) to train U.S. diplomatic and government personnel assigned to high-threat posts around the world. After a multi-year exhaustive search for the best site, the Administration has determined Fort Pickett is the best site to meet the State Department's operational requirements, and take advantage of synergies by being in close proximity to the State Department, its Foreign Service Institute, intelligence agencies, and military facilities in the Washington D.C. area.
In response to a question from Senator Kaine last week during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry said, "The Department is 100 percent determined that Fort Pickett is the best site The coordination with the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community - Fort Pickett is the site."
"These training facilities play an important role in the protection of American diplomatic personnel, and I am very pleased we were able to make a winning case for the selection of Fort Pickett in Blackstone," Warner said. "This training center will generate new economic activity in Virginia while also helping the State Department improve its training efficiencies while holding down costs."
"Our diplomats, security personnel and their families serve in some of the most dangerous places in the world, and I think everyone can agree they deserve the best security training possible. Fort Pickett provides that venue,"Kaine said. "The local community in Virginia is ready to support this project and I am happy the Administration is moving forward on it."
"America has an obligation when we send our diplomats and their families around the world to represent our nation that we have provided the best training for them and those responsible for their protection," said Forbes. "Fort Pickett has remained the number one choice by the State Department to locate the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center and I could not be more pleased to see this critically important project now able to move forward. There is no question that working together on this issue with my colleagues in Virginia, as well as the outstanding cooperation from our state and local partners, was critical in making this happen."
"I am pleased that Fort Pickett has been selected as the home for the new Foreign Affairs Security Training Center,"s aid Hurt. "The safety and security of our foreign service personnel is vitally important, and I applaud the decision to utilize the resources that Fort and the surrounding areas have to offer. We also look forward to the potential job opportunities and investment associated with this decision for the people of Southside Virginia."
Warner, Kaine, Forbes, and Hurt have long-supported the establishment of a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center. The need for improved training for State Department personnel was underscored by the 2012 tragedy in Benghazi and more recently by threats to a number of U.S. embassies around the world. In response to the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB) recommendation, the State Department reported to Congress in February 2013 that Fort Pickett was the best-suited site to meet operational requirements and provide synergistic training.