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Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
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Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST)
  

Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST)

The Foreign Emergency Support Team is the United States Government's only interagency, on-call, short-notice team poised to respond to terrorist incidents worldwide. Led and trained by the Operations Directorate of the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, it assists U.S. missions and host governments in responding quickly and effectively to terrorist attacks. The FEST, which has deployed to over 20 countries since its inception in 1986, leaves for an incident site within four hours of notification, providing the fastest assistance possible.

The FEST provides round-the-clock advice and assistance to Ambassadors and foreign governments facing crisis. The Team is comprised of seasoned experts from the Department of State, FBI, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and the Intelligence Community. Once on the scene, FEST members help Ambassadors assess the emergency, advise on how best to respond, and assist in managing consequent operations. FEST provides:

  • Seasoned crisis management expertise
  • Time-sensitive information and intelligence
  • Planning for contingency operations
  • Hostage negotiating expertise
  • Reach-back to Washington agencies

FEST Assists in the Aftermath of East Africa BombingsFEST Assists in the Aftermath of East Africa Bombings
Two Foreign Emergency Support Teams were deployed to Kenya and Tanzania immediately following the August 1998 al-Qaeda terrorist bombings of US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The FESTs helped assess both emergencies and aided US Ambassadors as they managed the aftermath of the attacks, which killed some 300 (including 12 Americans) and injured more than 5000.

FEST Responds to USS Cole BombingFEST Responds to USS Cole Bombing
A Foreign Emergency Support Team was deployed to Aden, Yemen following a terrorist attack against the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors in October 2000. The FEST advised the US ambassador and helped her direct America's response to the attack. FEST's secure mobile communications capability was especially valuable, since the Port of Aden is some 200 miles from the American Embassy in Sanaa.

 

Smaller, "tailored" FESTs have responded to abductions of Americans in Ecuador and the Philippines. "Contingency" FESTs were deployed to ensure safety at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece (Summer 2004) and Turin, Italy (Winter 2006), and in Lagos, Nigeria during a hostage-taking crisis.

In addition to the above activities, the FEST routinely provides veteran diplomatic and interagency experts to national counterterrorism exercises, such as TOPOFF.

  
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