FEST (United States Foreign Emergency Support Team)
The United States Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST) is a rapid-response unit designed to respond to terrorist attacks against U.S. interests overseas. Created in 1985, it is directed by the Department of State, but constitutes an interagency force. Its most famous deployment occurred in 1998, when operatives of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
FEST was created to provide coordination and assistance to U.S. personnel and host nations in the event of an attack against American personnel and/or property over-seas. Whenever deployed, it is directed by the chief of mission, who is the leading representative of the U.S. president in a host nation (usually, but not always, this is an ambassador). Its efforts are coordinated by the Department of State, working through the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism.
In crisis situations, FEST has the mission of advising, assisting, assessing, and coordinating. It provides the chief of mission, incident managers, and leaders of the host government with direction concerning Washington's response to a terrorist attack. FEST personnel are prepared to work around the clock in crisis and consequence management, communication augmentation, and other specialized tasks as directed. During the 1998 bombings in Africa, teams focused on restoring communications, ensuring security, and coordinating the flow of assistance to the embassies and personnel.
█ FURTHER READING:
Marcus, David L. "Horror at U.S. Embassies." Boston Globe. (August 8, 1998): A1.
Reiss, Tom. "Now Will We Heed the Biological Threat?" New York Times. (February 21, 1998): 11.
Foreign Emergency Support Team. U.S. Department of State. < http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/2002/13045.htm > (February 23, 2003).