Dell Dailey

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Dell Dailey retired as a lieutenant general of the United States Army, whose career was spent in special operations. On his retirement in 2007, he was named counterterrorism coordinator for the U.S. Department of State, [1] with the rank of Ambassador-at-Large. His last military assignment was heading the Director of the Center for Special Operations.[2]

Department of State

Some of his current projects involve terrorism in Africa, using "soft power" rather than military force.

When you hold elections, there are certain benefits, like assistance in security and law enforcement and economic development. The three pillars of trying to defeat terrorism and build a good society are development, good governance and security. In Mauritania, they were moving in that direction. The coup was extremely disappointing[3]

Turkey is one of his high priorities. On the day of a summit dealing with their insurgency, he said the US and Turkey "have intelligence sharing comparable to no other cooperation among other world states" [4]

Military career

An Army aviator, he commanded the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) as a colonel, and later the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as a major general; he led the latter in the Afghanistan War (2001-) and Gulf War.

While he is secretive about his Army duties, he does tell of the time he felt afraid: running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, in 1979. "I ran the Estafeta, the narrowest part of the run," he said. "I did it for the excitement after reading 'The Drifters' by James Michener. I was a captain in Germany, and I drove there with my girlfriend. I ran with the bulls while Spanish guys were chasing the woman who became my wife," he said. "I learned a lesson about priorities."[1]

Iraq War

His leadership is controversial. In the Gulf War, where he commanded the Special Mission Unit, TF 20, "Dailey was known as a pit bull: once he latched onto a concept he would rarely let it go -- or as Dailey's own staff quipped, he was determined to shove a marshmellow into a piggy bank,"[5] When asked about this, he laughed and said: "Not a marshmallow, but a gold brick into the bank." [1]

COL Pete Blaber, working for Dailey in Iraq, refused Dailey's orders to move a Delta Force unit into the heart of Tikrit, when Blaber felt they were not strong enough. While this would be insubordinate in a conventional unit, special operators give a good deal of decision to the man on the ground.


He commanded Task Force 11 (TF 11) in Afghanistan, the JSOC Special Mission Unit.

There was some criticism of his JSOC leadership in Afghanistan, especially from Delta Force, who resented his interchanging them with SEAL Team 6. His background as an aviator rather than a ground operator also was questioned by direct action personnel who did not think he knew how to manage cround combat. He was also considered a micromanager. [6] Some considered Dailey a micromanager, exerting supervision over BG Gregory Trebon, USAF, his deputy when he commanded TF 11 even though Trebon, as the SMU commander, actually reported to CENTCOM. Trebon, a fixed-wing aircraft and parachute specialist, also was felt to know less of ground operations than a helicopter pilot.

Early career

He is a 1971 graduate of West Point.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Robin Wright (August 24, 2007), Washington Post
  2. 2008 Distinguished Graduate Award: LTG Dell L. Dailey '71, West Point Association of Graduates
  3. Nicholas Schmidle, "The Saharan Conundrum", New York Times
  4. Andrew McGregor (September 24, 2008), "Turkey Planning to Eliminate Kurdish PKK Insurgents in the Coming Year", Terrorism Focus, Jamestown Foundation
  5. Michael R. Gordon, Bernard E. Trainor (2006), COBRA II: the inside story of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Pantheon, ISBN 0375422625, p. 328
  6. Sean Naylor (2005), The untold story of Operation Anaconda: Not a Good Day to Die, Berkley, ISBN 0425196097, pp. 32-35