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What is the FEST?

The FEST is the U.S. government’s only interagency, on-call, short-notice team that can rapidly respond to critical incidents worldwide. At the request of, and on the behalf of, the U.S. chief of mission, the FEST deploys overseas to advise, assist, assess, and coordinate U.S. government crisis response activities.

The FEST may deploy to respond to terrorism incidents and significant threats, to support chiefs of mission during large-scale events such as the Olympic Games or World Cup, and during U.S. government counterterrorism preparedness exercises.


U.S. Department of State bureaus and offices:

Interagency elements that support the FEST include:

  • Department of Defense
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Energy
  • United States Agency for International Development – Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs
  • Intelligence Community and other federal agencies as appropriate
Foreign Emergency Support Team members board an aircraft bound for Lebanon to lend support to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut as part of the U.S. government’s response following a large explosion, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 7, 2020. (U.S. Department of State photo)


On Aug. 4, 2020, a massive explosion ripped through the port of Beirut, Lebanon, causing extensive injuries and damage throughout the surrounding area. Shortly after the blast, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut requested support from the DSS-led Foreign Emergency Support Team to help coordinate interagency support for emergency response, restoration of essential services, and public health and safety protection.

Invincible Sentry 21 

In March 2021, members of the FEST participated in a five-day military crisis response exercise between Qatari and U.S. military forces in Doha, Qatar. Exercise Invincible Sentry 2021 (IS 21) is an annual U.S. Central Command training event, hosted this year by the government of Qatar.  IS 21 included close coordination and training with the Qatar’s Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Embassy Doha, and other U.S. government entities.

U.S. and Qatari Special Operations Forces encounter a gunman role-player, March 24, 2021, during U.S. Central Command’s crisis response exercise Invincible Sentry in Doha, Qatar. The annual bilateral exercise represents a unique opportunity to train with Qatari partners to exercise critical crisis response capabilities. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex L. Smedegard)
FEST members from the U.S. Department of State, FBI, and the Department of Defense meet outside of the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar. (Credit: Public Affairs Section/U.S. Embassy Doha)

U.S. Department of State

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