Warrenton Training Center

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Warrenton Training Center
Fauquier County and Culpeper County, Virginia
Warrenton Training Center is located in Virginia
Warrenton Training Center
Warrenton Training Center
Coordinates38°44′01″N 77°49′47″W / 38.7335°N 77.8297°W / 38.7335; -77.8297
TypeCommunications facility
Site information
OwnerUnited States Department of Defense
Open to
the public
ConditionFully operational
Site history
In use1951–present
Garrison information
OccupantsCentral Intelligence Agency
Department of State
National Security Agency
United States Army

Warrenton Training Center (WTC) is a classified United States government communication complex located in the state of Virginia. Established in 1951, it comprises four discrete stations located in Fauquier and Culpeper counties.

WTC has served multiple roles, most notably as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) signals intelligence facility, numbers station, and communications laboratory. The center also houses at least one underground "relocation" bunker that serves U.S. continuity of government purposes, and is a communications and signals intelligence training school for various federal departments and agencies, including the CIA, National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Defense and Department of State. Additionally, it is a relay facility for the Department of State's Diplomatic Telecommunications Service. The United States Army administers WTC on behalf of the U.S. government.


Warrenton Training Center was established on June 1, 1951, as part of a "Federal Relocation Arc" of hardened underground bunkers built to support continuity of government in the event of a nuclear attack on Washington, D.C.[1][2] The center was ostensibly designated a Department of Defense Communication Training Activity and served as a communications training school.[1] The CIA listed personnel and other expenses at Warrenton Training Center in its fiscal year 1955 budget.[3]

Initially, the United States Army served as the executive agent for the administration and management of the center on behalf of the Department of Defense. In 1973, the center was transferred to the Department of the Army under the administration of its signals intelligence branch, the Army Security Agency, a subordinate to the NSA, and the base was renamed U.S. Army Training Group, Warrenton Training Center. In 1982, the center was restored its original name and reverted to Department of Defense control with the Army as the executive agent for administration on behalf of the National Communications System (NCS).[1]

Under the NCS (dissolved and functions transferred to the United States Department of Homeland Security in 2012[4]), the center is mandated to provide communication for the federal government under any circumstances, including a nuclear attack. Its underground bunkers house communications infrastructure that provides service for most major federal departments.[5] In 2002, the Brookings Institution listed an unspecified WTC "relocation bunker" as a facility with an active nuclear weapons, weapons-related or naval nuclear propulsion mission.[6]

The CIA has used Warrenton Training Center as a communications facility since the 1950s.[3] Short-wave radio enthusiasts have identified WTC antennas broadcasting suspected intelligence transmissions.[7][8] In 1989, a WTC spokesperson acknowledged that the stations "are operated ... to communicate with embassies, and for espionage transmissions" to American intelligence agents in Cuba and Central America.[9] In 1998, laboratories at WTC were reported to produce concealed radio equipment used to send and receive communications, typically in the form of furniture items.[10]

In 1986, the KGB threw U.S. investigators off the trail of CIA officer and Soviet mole Aldrich Ames by constructing an elaborate diversion whereby a Soviet case officer told a CIA contact that the mole was stationed at Warrenton Training Center. Ames was stationed in Rome at the time. U.S. mole hunters investigated 90 employees at WTC for almost a year and came up with ten suspects, although the lead investigator noted that "there are so many problem personalities that no one stands out."[11][12]

WTC has continued its role as a communications training facility for various government agencies, including the CIA, NSA, Department of Defense, and the Department of States's Foreign Service Institute.[1][13][14] In 1995, a former NSA employee told The Baltimore Sun that WTC's communications training included listening in on the phone calls of U.S. citizens, using a loophole in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that permitted domestic eavesdropping so long as the tapes were destroyed immediately afterward.[13]

In April 2013, Dominion Virginia Power representatives indicated that facility expansion plans at WTC had accelerated the need for electrical transmission line upgrades in the area,[15][16][17] and in November 2015, Vadata, a subsidiary of Amazon, announced plans to build a $200 million Department of Defense data center on the site. The center addresses a federal government requirement that the cloud infrastructure be entirely separate from the public cloud.[18][19]


Warrenton Training Center is spread across four separate facilities in two different counties. Station A, Station B and Station C are located in Fauquier County, while Station D is located in Culpeper County.[20]

Station A, near Warrenton, is an administrative, training and residential compound. Numerous structures on site include both residential and office buildings.[5] Station A is used as a training facility by multiple agencies, including the Department of State and the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence and Directorate of Support.[21]

Station B, also near Warrenton, houses the headquarters of WTC and, at 346 acres (140 ha), is the largest of the four facilities. It consists of several multi-story buildings concealed atop the heavily forested View Tree Mountain, as well as underground bunkers that house communications infrastructure.[1][5][22] Operations at Station B include a communications laboratory, communications training, electronics testing, and equipment maintenance.[10][20] The facility is a node on a fiber-optic cable that runs from Stations C and D, and which also connects WTC with other facilities in the Washington, D.C. area, such as the Tysons Corner Communications Tower. Station B also houses the Brushwood conference facility, constructed in the 1990s.[1] The United States Environmental Protection Agency classifies Station B as a superfund site due to the presence of an inactive landfill and two chemical pits that have released trichloroethylene into nearby residential drinking water wells.[20]

Station C was at one time a CIA numbers station, which transmitted coded signals to U.S. embassies overseas and intelligence agents in the field.[5][8][23] Transmissions carried a female voice, dubbed "Cynthia" by radio hobbyists, that would recite groups of numbers in English. The transmissions were last heard in 2003.[24]

Station D, also known as Brandy Station due to its proximity to the community of the same name, is the primary high frequency receiver facility for the CIA Office of Communications, and also hosts a variety of satellite communications ground station facilities.[25] Station D is also a core regional relay facility for the Department of State's Diplomatic Telecommunications Service, a system of secure integrated networks that supports U.S. government departments and agencies operating from diplomatic missions and consulate facilities outside the United States.[26][27]

Facility locations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Pike, John (2001). "Warrenton Station B". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on June 5, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  2. ^ Ceruzzi, Paul E. (2008). Internet Alley: High Technology in Tysons Corner, 1945-2005. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 40. ISBN 9780262033749.
  3. ^ a b CIA-RDP86B00269R000100110003-5 (PDF), Central Intelligence Agency, October 31, 1954, retrieved March 27, 2013
  4. ^ In 2012, President Barack Obama dissolved the NCS and transferred oversight of NCS programs to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications. See "Background and History of the NCS". National Communications System. Archived from the original on March 5, 2013. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d "Bunkers Beyond the Beltway: The Federal Government Backup System". The Lay of the Land. Center for Land Use Interpretation. Spring 2002. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  6. ^ Schwartz, Stephen I. (August 2002). "Bombs in the Backyard". Brookings Institution. Archived from the original on September 1, 2012. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  7. ^ Berman, A.S. (July 6, 2000). "Random Numbers on Shortwave Add Up to One Thing: Spies!". USA Today. p. 3D.
  8. ^ a b Smolinski, Chris (1998). "The Counting Station [E5/V5]". Numbers & Oddities. p. 8. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
  9. ^ Baskervill, Bill (August 21, 1989). "Shhh—Secret Agents are Quietly at Work in Virginia". The Free Lance–Star. Associated Press. pp. 1, 20.
  10. ^ a b Pike, John (April 6, 1998). "Warrenton Station B". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on June 10, 2001. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  11. ^ Pincus, Walter (September 24, 1994). "CIA: Ames Betrayed 55 Operations; Inspector General's Draft Report Blames Supervisors for Failure to Plug Leak". The Washington Post. p. A1.
  12. ^ Weiner, Tim (November 2, 1994). "Senate Report Faults C.I.A. for Ineptitude in Spy Case". The New York Times. p. A1.
  13. ^ a b Shane, Scott; Bowman, Tom (December 12, 1995). "Listening In: Though the National Security Agency Can't Target Americans, It Can — and Does — Listen to Everyone from Senators to Lovers". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  14. ^ Foreign Service Institute Course Catalog (PDF). Arlington, VA: United States Department of State. 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  15. ^ Emerson, Lawrence (April 26, 2013). "National Security Needs May Result in High-voltage Line". FauquierNow.com.
  16. ^ Emerson, Lawrence (April 3, 2013). "Unidentified big user drives Warrenton powerline plans". FauquierNow.com.
  17. ^ "Warrenton Wheeler Gainesville 230 kV Reliability Project: Ad Hoc Information Session" (PDF). Dominion Resources. May 16, 2013. p. 5.
  18. ^ Emerson, Lawrence (November 12, 2015). "$200-million data center planned near Warrenton". FauquierNow.com. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  19. ^ Chernicoff, David (November 24, 2015). "Vadata plans US DoD data center in Virginia". ZDNet. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  20. ^ a b c "Warrenton Training Center: Current Site Information". United States Environmental Protection Agency. May 2010. Archived from the original on June 25, 2012. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  21. ^ Pike, John (April 6, 1998). "Warrenton Station A". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on August 3, 2001. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  22. ^ Del Rosso, Don (October 6, 2016). ""Cloud" computing giant coming to Vint Hill". FauquierNow.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  23. ^ Pike, John (April 6, 1998). "Warrenton Station C". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on August 3, 2001. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  24. ^ Friesen, Christopher (January 27, 2014). "Spy 'Numbers Stations' Still Baffle, Enthrall". Radio World. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  25. ^ Pike, John (December 3, 1998). "Warrenton Station D". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on August 3, 2001. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  26. ^ "5-FAH 2 H-510: DTS Network". U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 5 Handbook 2: Telecommunications Handbook. United States Department of State. June 6, 2012. Retrieved 13 Dec 2015.
  27. ^ "About DTSPO". United States Department of State. Archived from the original on May 26, 2013. Retrieved March 27, 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°44′01″N 77°49′47″W / 38.7335°N 77.8297°W / 38.7335; -77.8297