- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 2, 2006

The largest anti-terrorism training center in the country is being planned for construction at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, Md.

The Center for Security Training and Technology will provide state-of-the-art training for federal, state and local law-enforcement and emergency-response crews.

It will be built by APG Development Partners under the Army’s Enhanced Use Leasing program and will cover 1,300 acres of the base.

“We are going to cover the broadest spectrum of counter-terrorism and natural-disaster response training possible,” said Thomas Swoyer Jr., a project manager with Weston Solutions Inc., part of the APG partnership.

The center will include separate areas for a mock airport and marine and urban-scenario training.

Staff will use virtual-reality training and warehouse-sized soundstages to simulate lighting, weather and other conditions.

The setup will be flexible, so training for an airport quickly could become training at a shopping mall.

The center will be owned and operated by APG Development Partners — a partnership between the Weston redevelopment firm and LCOR real estate developer.

“We were searching for a way to use the land for training without using military construction money while they were looking to implement an anti-terrorism center,” said George Mercer, a spokesman for the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The developers will negotiate with the Army for a lease agreement. Construction could begin in about four months and could be completed in as little as 18 months. The project is expected to cost $300 million to $350 million.

Building the center presents several challenges, including environmental concerns surrounding the nearby Chesapeake Bay and, perhaps, unexploded munitions that robots must remove before construction.

Another challenge to the project is making it cost-efficient so law-enforcement and emergency crews can afford to send their members there for training.

Although other government agencies have similar training centers, this one will be open to a wider group of government and private-sector trainees, Mr. Swoyer said.

The Aberdeen Proving Ground occupies more than 72,500 acres in Harford County, about 25 miles north of Baltimore.

More than 7,500 civilians work and about 5,000 military personnel work on the base.

The new center could bring in hundreds of new jobs, depending on the number of trainees at the center, Mr. Swoyer said. It will have dining, lodging, fitness and recreation facilities for trainees.

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