July 26, 2011

Governor McDonnell announces Fort Pickett and Nottoway County selection for further study as a candidate for Foreign Affairs Security Training Center

By Staff Reports

RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. General Services Administration are conducting further studies at the Virginia Army National Guard's Maneuver Training Center at Fort Pickett and in Nottoway County's Pickett Park to assess the potential for locating a planned Foreign Affairs Security Training Center at the installation.

After a year-long comprehensive search process that included the review of over 40 publicly-held sites in the vicinity of Washington, D.C., Fort Pickett and Pickett Park were selected as a potential candidate. The site will now undergo an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. The EIS will be prepared to address potential impacts to the natural, social and cultural environment. The study may take up to two years to complete, and will include a robust and transparent public engagement process to answer questions from citizens and address any possible concerns about the project. Following the completion of the EIS, a final decision will be made by the DOS and GSA whether to move forward with the site and develop construction documents.

"Virginia remains a key strategic partner for the military and the federal government due to our close proximity to Washington D.C. and our wholehearted support of our military, homeland security and law enforcement partners," Governor McDonnell said. "We welcome this news that would help enhance our national security and could bring hundreds of much-needed jobs to Nottoway County and the surrounding region. The Commonwealth will work closely with the community, the Virginia Department of Military Affairs and the Department of State to support the environmental impact statement and address the needs of residents in this area."

Once completed, the center will be used to provide security training for DOS and other U.S. government staff posted at American embassies overseas. A small number of foreign security personnel will also receive training at the center. Training is currently conducted at 19 separate locations. The training will include weapons training similar to what is conducted at Fort Pickett and also will include a driving course and classroom instruction. The DOS plans to transfer and/or consolidate a number of staff positions to the site.

"The selection of Fort Pickett and Nottoway County's Pickett Park as the final candidate site for the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center is the result of months of hard work by senior leaders from the Nottoway County, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Department of Military Affairs, the Virginia Army National Guard and Fort Pickett," said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. "There is still much to be done, and we look forward to our continued strong partnership with Nottoway County and working with the State Department and General Services Administration on the environmental impact study and public engagement process over the coming months with the strong hope of making this planned facility a reality."

Fort Pickett is one of the premier military and homeland defense training facilities on the East Cost, and the addition of the FASTC will add a national training capability to the installation, Long said.

The project could potentially bring construction jobs and other employment to the local community. According to DOS estimates, approximately 300 to 500 jobs could be created as part of the first phase of construction and the preliminary estimate for longer term permanent part- or full-time job ranges from 850 to 1,000.

The DOS and GSA have informed the governor's office that they are committed to an open and transparent EIS process that will solicit advice and input from the public, Nottoway County, the Virginia Department of Military Affairs, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Town of Blackstone and other interested parties.

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