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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism > Releases > Fact Sheets > 2002
Fact Sheet
Office of Counterterrorism
Washington, DC
August 15, 2002

Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST)

When a terrorist attack occurs against U.S. interests overseas, affected Americans and the host nation need rapid, coordinated, effective assistance to resolve the situation. The Foreign Emergency Support Team was created to respond to such situations when U.S. assistance has been requested by the Chief of Mission, host government or directed by the President of the United States. Since its inception in 1985, the FEST has provided rapid assistance to Americans abroad and countries around the world which have suffered terrorist attacks.

What is the FEST? What is its mission?

Whoís in charge?

What does FEST do to help the affected U.S. post and host nation?

Who comprises the FEST?

What are some examples of FEST deployments?

What is the FEST?  What is its mission?

The FEST is a rapid-response interagency team sent to support the Chief of Mission (the Presidentís top representative in the host nation) and host government. During a terrorist incident the FEST provides a wide range of specialized skills not normally available on-scene. The Department of State, through the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, is the lead agency coordinating the FEST. 

The role of the FEST after the attack on the USS Cole

"The FEST provided critical communications - the key to managing any crisis - but more importantly if intangibly, provided expertise and experience, the framework for interagency coordination, a finesse with the Washington bureaucracy, and both substantive and staff back-up to the Ambassador."

U.S. Ambassador to Yemen
Barbara K. Bodine

The FESTís mission is to advise, assist, assess and coordinate. Specifically, the FEST provides the U.S. Chief Of Mission, host government leaders, and incident managers guidance concerning U.S. capabilities to resolve terrorist incidents or mitigate the consequences of an incident/attack.

Whoís in charge?

The U.S. Chief of Mission, the Presidentís top representative in the host nation, is in charge of the FEST. On arrival, the FEST becomes part of the U.S. Mission and augments on-site resources to manage crises.

What does FEST do to help the affected U.S. Mission and host nation?

The FEST brings several unique capabilities not normally available at an affected U.S. Mission:

  • Crisis and consequence management assistance;
  • Capability to work 24 hours;
  • Additional communications; and
  • Selected expertise to augment Embassy staff.

Who comprises the FEST?

A FEST normally includes a senior Foreign Service Officer as team leader, a deputy team leader and operations officer from S/CT, as well as a combination of specialists from other departments and agencies.

What are some examples of FEST deployments?

FEST Assists in the Aftermath of East Africa BombingsEast Africa Bombings  

In August 1998, S/CT Ops was responsible for coordinating and leading the two Foreign Emergency Support Teams (FEST) that deployed to Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Esalam, Tanzania in response to the al-Qaida bombings of the US Embassies.  The FEST played a key role is coordinating the US government support to these embassies and providing the Chiefs of Mission with the best expertise available to mitigate the consequences of two deadly terrorist attacks.

FEST Responds to USS Cole Bombing USS Cole Bombing  

On October 12, 2001, the FEST deployed in support of American Embassy Sanaa to Aden Yemen to coordinate the response to the USS Cole bombing.  The FEST set up in a local hotel and provided valuable support to the Ambassador to include enhanced secure communications and reporting to Washington.  The Ambassador praised the valuable support provided by the FEST


Additional S/CT Ops responsibilities are to co-chair of the Counter Terrorism Security Group (CSG) Exercise Subgroup, Hostage Policy Subgroup, and the Interagency Athletic Events Security Coordination Group.

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