A new training center for government officials that we designed in Blackstone, Virginia, was recently featured in Wired magazine. The Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) is a project of the US State Department that provides an extensive campus of simulated learning environments alongside high-speed driving tracks and classroom buildings.
Wired praises FASTC's “centerpiece”: the military operations in urban terrain simulator (MOUT). This simulated city is designed to help foreign affairs agents develop hard skills for situations they may encounter in the real world.
Consolidating several existing training centers, FASTC will train thousands of government professionals on a daily basis as the “largest and most comprehensive of any US law-enforcement training resource.”
Also known as the MOUT, this is a proper town, complete with back alleys, main drags, and a life-size US embassy compound. The multistory buildings sport rooms, stairs, balconies, and rooftops, all of which can serve as stages for faux bad guys or the agents securing the structure while managing a search, evacuation, or watching over a motorcade. The only thing missing is a Starbucks on every corner—or any other permanent set dressing. The town is a blank, reusable canvas that can be modded to play a global capital or developing nation's unkempt urban center. Actors interact with agents; networked speakers replicate rumbling tanks, bleating goats, midtown Manhattan traffic, and more.