|It's Congressional jump ball, VA versus GA|
The Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (see the FASTC project fact sheet) has been a vital need in search of a location for many years now. So I was pleased to see a press release by Virginia's Senator Kaine applauding the announcement that Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Virginia, "has been chosen" as the FASTC site.
Wonderful news! Only, nothing followed that announcement. No confirmation, no congressional vote, no funds, not even a press release from the State Department itself. The "announcement" consists, so far, of nothing except a statement made by SecState Kerry:
In response to a question from Senator Kaine last week during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “The Department is 100 percent determined that Fort Pickett is the best site … The coordination with the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community - Fort Pickett is the site.”
Well, now, just last December, U.S. Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia sent SecState Kerry a letter telling him that he knows of a better site than Fort Pickett:
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center can more than handle security training for the State Department and save taxpayers millions of dollars in the process, the congressman whose district includes the center in Glynn County says.
Kingston supports strong training programs for State Department personnel but is opposed to spending an estimated $1 billion on the development of a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center - or FASTC - at Fort Pickett at Blackstone, Va.
- snip -
Funding for a new training facility was included in a budget submitted by the State Department for the new fiscal year in October, but it was taken out after Kingston and members of the U.S. Senate questioned the lack of a feasibility or impact study.
"As you know, a variety of federal agencies have sought to establish new, separate training centers for their agencies over many years - sometimes inspired by members of Congress whose states they viewed as the ideal setting, other times by an earnest desire to provide the best training possible," Kingston wrote Kerry.
Say, Representative Kingston wouldn't be one of those members of Congress who views his own state as the ideal setting for FASTC, would he? I sure hope he's one of the other kind, the earnest ones. I always assume the best of our elected representatives.
I hope Senator Kaine tips this political jump ball his way. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center is probably a wonderful place to learn handcuffing skills and such, as you can see from the training programs described here, but that isn't at all what foreign affairs security training is supposed to be about.