During a recent Senate hearing of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing, U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) emphasized the significance of the FBI’s operations at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The hearing featured FBI Director Christopher Wray, where Senator Britt underscored the critical nature of the agency’s work at the facility.
Both Britt and Wray expressed their enthusiasm for further developing FBI facilities in the Huntsville area. In November, the FBI officially conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Redstone Arsenal for the North Campus and Operations Building.
The FBI’s objective for the North Campus revolves around promoting innovation and generating actionable intelligence to support its investigative efforts. With a focus on propelling the agency into the future, the North Campus will facilitate collaboration between technical units and operational teams by offering state-of-the-art training venues.
The FBI presence at Redstone Arsenal has grown over the years, beginning with the Hazardous Devices School (HDS), established in 1971 and run jointly by the U.S. Army and the FBI until 2016, when the FBI accepted primary responsibility for the school. HDS is the only facility in the United States that trains and certifies the nation’s public safety bomb technicians.
Redstone Arsenal is also the home of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center, (TEDAC). TEDAC, consisting of 30 partner agencies such as the FBI, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security, previously operated from the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. However, the relocation to Alabama centralizes the government’s endeavors concerning Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and terrorism. In addition to TEDAC and HDS, Redstone Arsenal hosts additional key operations, including the ATF’s National Center for Explosives Training and Research and various other activities.
During her questioning of the FBI Director, Britt asked, “First, how does FBI Redstone fit into the FBI’s broader strategic plan for the future? And second, will FBI Redstone provide capacity to foster the professional development and training of your workforce to ensure that FBI has the most highly skilled and innovative and analytical workforce out there?”
According to Director Wray, the FBI currently operates 19 divisions in Huntsville, employing approximately 1,800 individuals. The agency foresees significant growth in the near future, aiming to increase its workforce to around 3,000 employees. Director Wray also mentioned that the location will function as an “innovation hub,” providing advanced training opportunities for agents.
“I think I see a couple things,” Wray said. “One, I view it as an innovation hub for the FBI. We’ve talked a lot already in this hearing about technology and our adversaries’ use of the technology and our need to use technology to be ahead of them, and that’s where I think the R&D efforts really is one way of short-handing it, I think would be really concentrated in Huntsville.
“We’re going to have a cyber-kinetic range where our cyber agents can train. An innovation hub so — so it’s both innovation and advanced training.”
Wray also said the FBI plans to expand its Counter-IED Center of Excellence on Redstone Arsenal.
“… We already have a counter-IED Center of Excellence there with TEDAC which is where IEDs (improvised explosive devices) from all over the world are sent to do forensics on those IEDs, which then leaves to lives saved on the battlefield,” he said. “So, we’re looking to grow that as well.”
Senator Britt commented, “I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you and the FBI to continue leverage Huntsville’s highly skilled workforce and vast national security industrial base, whether it is network engineering, quantum computing, artificial intelligence or counter UAS,” she said. “Huntsville has the experience and stands ready to support the FBI’s mission.”
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Post Image- Huntsville, Alabama, skyline at twilight. (Image Credit: envatoelements by SeanPavone)