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Face covering in place, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security  Todd Brown took his mark, aimed, and fired the first rifle shot to officially open the new, highly anticipated, 100-meter, long-distance firing range at the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) in Blackstone, Va., on July 17, 2020.

Opening the new firing range was only one of many FASTC activities that took place during the DSS leader’s day-long visit to the training facility, which formally opened in November 2019. All of the DSS training was conducted with new COVID-19 mitigations in place to keep students and staff protected from possible infection.


After FASTC Director Bob Weitzel greeted and briefed Acting Assistant Secretary Brown, he toured the center, observing training in progress by a small group of Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) students as they conducted their end of training exercise at the mock embassy. He also watched a Basic Regional Security Officer (BRSO) class completing driver training at the off-road track and visited another BRSO class at the post-blast range where he initiated several explosive devices placed in vehicles for the class and staff to study.


Toward the end of the tour, the Acting Assistant Secretary paid a visit to the FASTC Armory complex where he interacted with Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle (DS/C/PSP/DEAV) personnel and learned how armory personnel are decontaminating equipment before and after training use while they conduct warehousing (issuance and receiving) operations in a COVID-19 environment to ensure DSS personnel are utilizing the best tools to accomplish their mission.

The results of Acting Assistant Secretary Brown’s explosive device detonation during BRSO training for DSS agents at FASTC, Blackstone, Va., July 17, 2020. (U.S. Department of State photo)

“Aside from the excellent training I observed during my visit, I was particularly heartened by the support provided by DS and other State Department bureaus to support our students and staff during the challenges presented by COVID-19,” said Brown.  “These steps included, for example, providing personal protective equipment, decontaminating the training venues and classrooms, and imparting COVID-19 guidance before, during and after their FASTC training.”


U.S. Department of State

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