U.S. State Department Opens New Foreign Affairs Security Simulation Training Center
Yesterday Fox News reporter Barnini Chakraborty covered a 5-day training course at the new U.S. State Department Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) in Blackstone, VA. From realistic gunfire and moulage wounds to simulated power outages and helicopter extractions, the new federally funded simulation center will provide unique training unlike anywhere else in the world. Starting with 2,000 specialists, the training program will quickly ramp up to train 10,000 people annually!
Fox News Covers New FASTC Simulation Grounds
The massive 1,350-acre compound was approved by Congress and built to provide comprehensive lifesaving security training to Department of State personnel and members of the foreign affairs community.
“Training is the bedrock to protecting lives,” Michael Evanoff, assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, told Fox News. “If you are a trained foreign service officer and you go through the training we give you, you will be better prepared to react.” Constructed in three phases and fully operational in December, the FASTC hard skills training campus includes a rappel tower, a tactical maze, two smokehouses, an explosive demo range as well as a live-fire shoot house.
The facility also features two high-speed driving tracks and another that can be flooded with 96,000 gallons of water to give agents hands-on training to mastering rough road conditions. They are taught how to drive an armored SUV through a controlled skid as well as how to speed away from an ambush in reverse, ram vehicles out of the way and drive through just about every surface imaginable, including sand, mud, clay, gravel, over big rocks, over little rocks, up asphalt hills, down stairs and over logs. They are also taught how to detect surveillance, provide emergency medical care and root out improvised explosive devices.
But perhaps most impressive is the military operations in urban terrain simulator, also known as MOUT. Based on blueprints from existing embassies, FASTC created an entire town on its campus to put agents through rigorous training on how to respond to everything from a post-election protest in a foreign country to a security threat on the chaotic streets of New York City. Paid actors play townspeople, protestors, journalists and merchants to add to the drill’s “real feel.”
FASTC’s “Fire as a Weapon” course is the direct result of Benghazi and teaches diplomatic staff how to respond to attacks on their compounds involving incendiary weapons and fires that are deliberately set. “When a facility is attacked, they set fire to the facility,” Evanoff told Fox. “We need to learn how to get out of it.”
(Photo by Fox News). Read the Full Fox News Article here!
U.S. State Department Shares More About the FASTC
A May 2008 report to Congress identified the need for a consolidated foreign affairs security training facility to improve training efficiency, decrease operating costs, and provide priority access to training venues that meet current facility standards. To achieve these goals, the Department of State is constructing the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) at Fort Pickett and on adjacent property near Blackstone, Virginia. FASTC will provide lifesaving security training to Department of State personnel and members of the foreign affairs community.
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.
The Department of State, working with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), conducted environmental studies at Fort Pickett, which showed that the site was suitable for FASTC. In 2015, GSA purchased property and secured land use agreements for approximately 1,400 acres of publicly held land. On February 25, 2016, construction began for the FASTC project. The creation of FASTC will allow for the consolidation of 10 of the current 11 leased or use fee facilities the Department of State used for hard-skills training.
Recorded entirely by an approved Unmanned Aerial System on December 7, 2018, this video shows aerial views of the construction status of the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC), including various training venues that have been completed or are currently under construction. The video has no narrator or background music.
Lance Baily, BA, EMT-B, is the Founder & CEO of HealthySimulation.com, which he started while serving as the Director of the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas back in 2010. Lance is also the Founder and acting Advisor to the Board of SimGHOSTS.org, the world’s only non-profit organization dedicated to supporting professionals operating healthcare simulation technologies. His new co-edited Book: “Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Operations, Technology, and Innovative Practice” is available now. Lance’s background also includes serving as a Simulation Technology Specialist for the LA Community College District, EMS fire fighting, Hollywood movie production, rescue diving, and global travel. He lives with his wife Abigail in Las Vegas, Nevada.