Deputy Coordinator, Operations Directorate
Mark Thompson is the Deputy Coordinator for Operations in the Bureau of Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State. He joined the State Department as a U.S. Marine in 1996, transitioned to the Civil Service in 1998, and assumed this position in 2006.
In this position, Mr. Thompson advises senior leadership on operational counterterrorism matters, and ensures that the United States can rapidly respond to global terrorism crises. Specifically, Ops coordinates policy and operational proposals; plans for crisis response during significant international events; collaborates with USG and international partners to develop technologies for countering terrorism; develops and conducts overseas counterterrorism exercises; and leads the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST).
The FEST is the U.S. Government’s only interagency, on-call team poised to rapidly respond to terrorist incidents worldwide. The FEST assists and advises the U.S. Ambassador in assessing the situation and coordinating USG crisis response activities. Mr. Thompson has led numerous FEST deployments in support of U.S. Ambassadors, including deployments to Latin America (2001), Southeast Asia (2002), and Africa (2006). Previously, he deployed as a FEST Operations Officer in response to the 1998 East Africa U.S. Embassy bombings and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen.
Mr. Thompson leads Department of State participation in counterterrorism training events. Every year Ops works with both its U.S. government and international partners to plan and conduct numerous counterterrorism crisis response exercises around the world. For example, Ops leads the planning efforts to conduct exercises that prepare the USG for major international events such as the Olympics and Pan American Games.
From 1978 to 1998 Mr. Thompson served in multiple positions as an infantry officer in all four U.S. Marine Divisions, and with embarked amphibious forces. Upon his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps, he assumed a civil service position in the (then) Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. In 2004 and 2005, he served with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, Iraq, where he coordinated interagency responses to hostage takings. Mr. Thompson was promoted to the Senior Executive Service in 2008.