Kerry To Kaine: “Fort Pickett Is The Best Site” For Embassy Security Training Facility
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, Secretary of State John Kerry assured U.S. Senator Tim Kaine that, despite recent consideration of other sites, Fort Pickett, Virginia remains the State Department’s top choice for a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) to train U.S. diplomatic and government personnel assigned to high-threat posts around the world. According to the State Department, Fort Pickett is the best site to meet State’s operational requirements, and takes advantages 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.
“I asked you about it a year ago, we’re here a year later and there’s not been any appreciable movement on the proposal to upgrade the security training in this instance of State Department personnel,” Kaine said. “Why haven’t we moved forward on [Fort Pickett] with more dispatch?”
“The Department is 100 percent determined that Fort Pickett is the best site,” Kerry said in response. “It’s the site we want to work with you to go forward on, there’s no question of that. And we want to try to do that as fast as we can. The coordination with the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community - Fort Pickett is the site.”
Kaine has long-supported the establishment of a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center. The need for more adequate 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.
In April 2013, Kaine and Senator Mark Warner wrote a letter to Secretary Kerry urging swift action on the FASTC project at Fort Pickett.