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DSS Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) Officially Opens

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By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, In Homeland Security

The U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service’s Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) will formally open its doors with a ribbon-cutting inaugural ceremony Thursday at a brand-new facility in Blackstone, Virginia.

Mock Outside Urban Terrain

Members of AMU’s In Homeland Security staff toured the state-of-the-art complex Wednesday and received a guided tour from DSS supervisory agents and high-level State Department officials. On display were some of FASTC’s training modules, including its Mock Outside Urban Terrain (MOUT), its defensive driving courses and one of its two ‘smokehouses’ where students are taught how to escape a burning, smoke-filled building in what DSS calls its “Fire As A Weapon” drill.

Mock Outdoor Urban Terrain within FASTC – Credit: Glynn Cosker

Related: An In-Depth Chat With A Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Agent

The Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is the federal law enforcement and security sector of the U.S. Department of State. The agency is responsible for protecting U.S. diplomatic personnel overseas, as well as U.S. property and other resources at our foreign missions. DSS also secures the Secretary of State and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations at all times – and offers protection to foreign dignitaries when they attend official meetings here in the United States.

Security Training Within the Foreign Affairs Community

FASTC is the nation’s largest provider of foreign affairs security training – with approximately 9,000 students passing through its doors so far this year. Comprised of 1,350 acres within the 55,000-acre training complex at a Virginia Army National Guard installation (Fort Pickett), FASTC meets the U.S. Department of State’s growing and unique security training needs and the threats the foreign affairs community faces overseas.

Related: DSS Helps Secure Boston Marathon, Preps Peruvians for Pan American Games

Training room within FASTC – Credit: Glynn Cosker

The campus features various high-speed driving tracks, off-road tracks, explosives ranges, and built-to-scale structures and streets – used to simulate real-world dangerous situations similar to those that might occur while DSS agents and diplomats serve the U.S. overseas.

FASTC will provide ongoing security training each year to around 10,000 Diplomatic Security Service special agents, other Department of State personnel the foreign affairs community at large.

Stay tuned to In Homeland Security in the coming days for feature articles covering the many training modules used at FASTC.

Glynn Cosker is a Managing Editor at AMU Edge. In addition to his background in journalism, corporate writing, web and content development, Glynn served as Vice Consul in the Consular Section of the British Embassy located in Washington, D.C. Glynn is located in New England.

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