Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, along with U.S. Representatives Bobby Scott, Randy Forbes, Rob Wittman, Gerry Connolly, Robert Hurt, Dave Brat, and Don Beyer released the following statement on the release of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that makes clear Fort Pickett, Virginia is the best location for a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC).
“After years of study, the Department of State and the General Services Administration determined in 2011 that Fort Pickett was the best site for security training for American embassy personnel and began to plan the facility. The Accountability Review Board convened after the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi also recommended moving ahead with an enhanced embassy security training facility. Congressional pressure to consider an alternate site in Glynco, Georgia slowed the project and forced a year-long reassessment of the project by the Office of Management and Budget from February 2013 through April 2014. After OMB also concluded that Fort Pickett was the best site, Congress forced the Government Accountability Office to conduct an additional study, further delaying the process by nearly a year.
“Today, the GAO released the results of that study, concluding that the Fort Pickett site meets all four requirements for a new facility, while the Georgia site meets none. The GAO finds that the cost of sending embassy personnel to Fort Pickett over 10 years will be $43 million to $121 million less than sending them to the Georgia site. The report also makes clear that cost estimates for the Fort Pickett site are more comprehensive, well documented, accurate and credible than those being used to try and sell the Georgia site.
“Now, over the course of more than a decade, after four evaluations by four agencies and the Benghazi Review Panel, some in Congress are devising new strategies to require another study and delay the project further. Three years after the Benghazi attack, what is it about embassy security that Congress doesn’t understand?
“It is time to move forward with the Fort Pickett project. The land has been acquired. The environmental studies are complete. The construction contract has been let. More unnecessary delay dishonors the many brave Americans supporting our diplomatic mission overseas who risk their lives every day.”
For months, members of the Virginia delegation have fought back against attempts to derail the construction of a FASTC at Fort Pickett. According to the GAO report released today, in addition to making financial sense, Fort Pickett meets four requirements deemed critical in the selection of a diplomatic security training site, including: 1) consolidation of training venues; 2) proximity to Washington, D.C; 3) exclusive use of the facility for State Department diplomatic security training; 4) use of the facility 24 hours/7 days a week to allow for nighttime training missions.