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:
- Diplomatic Security (lead bureau)
- Global Public Affairs
- Consular Affairs
- International Security and Non-Proliferation.
- Operational Medicine
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
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.