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