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Two views of the Administration Building at the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) where DSS and U.S. Secret Service officials begin their tour of the facility in Blackstone, Virginia, September 6, 2019. (U.S. Department of State photo)

Despite an early threat by Hurricane Dorian, September 6, 2019, turned out to be a beautiful day as Assistant Secretary Michael Evanoff showed the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) to U.S. Secret Service Director James Wallace.

(Left to right) Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Michael Evanoff, FASTC Director Robert Weitzel and Director of the U.S. Secret Service James Murray begin a tour of FASTC in the facility’s Tactical Operations Center.

The two officials were joined by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Training Wendy Bashnan, FASTC Director Robert Weitzel and other DSS officials, as FASTC staff led the group through several training facilities on the grounds. Included on the tour was a simulated evacuation in the Tactical Maze Building; a walkthrough in the Static Pad/Smokehouse; a driving tour of the track and the mock embassy; and a visit to the Vehicle Maintenance Facility.


Every year, DSS will train roughly 10,000 students at FASTC, including DSS special agents, other Foreign Service personnel, other U.S. government employees assigned to U.S. embassies and consulates, and some foreign nationals.  The Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) course, required by Department of State personnel assigned to overseas posts, will move to FASTC later this year. FASTC is open for partial business and is scheduled to formally open in mid-November and be fully operational in late 2019.

During the tour, Assistant Secretary Evanoff pointed out the importance of training in saving lives. He highlighted, as an example, the critical role that training plays for special agents with the DSS Office of Mobile Security Deployments (MSD). MSDs defend U.S. embassies and consulates in critical threat situations; train security personnel at U.S. embassies and consulates to enhance security and handle threats; and also augment the U.S. Secretary of State’s protective security detail with tactical support teams during trips to austere environments overseas.

DS Assistant Secretary Michael Evanoff, USSS Director James Murray and other DSS officials observe an MSD team negotiate a tactical training evolution in the tac-maze shoot house at FASTC, September 6, 2019. (U.S. Department of State photo)

When fully operational, FASTC will offer MSDs advanced tactical firearms training, defensive tactics instructor training; counter-terrorist driving skills; dynamic room entry; land navigation; ;; and other hard-skills training.

“You come out of MSD training and you are a Swiss army knife,” said Assistant Secretary Michael Evanoff.

(Left to right) Unit Chief Maner Lawton, DS Assistant Secretary Michael Evanoff, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Training Wendy Bashnan, and USSS Director James Murray listen to a briefing by Instructor Bill Parker during a tour of the Vehicle Maintenance Facility. (U.S. Department of State photo)

FASTC, located in Blackstone, Virginia, is scheduled to formally open in November 2019.

For more information about FASTC, visit

To learn more about the Diplomatic Security Service, visit

U.S. Department of State

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