Friday, August 24, 2007

Retired Special Ops Warrior to Head Counterterrorism at State

We do not know very much about this fellow, Dell Dailey, a lifelong secret operations military figure who has just been named to head the State Department's counterterrorism office. In fact, only those with highly classified clearance are likely to know many of the details about his various missions over the years.

As described in this Washington Post profile by Robin Wright, he has had a long and extraordinary career as a military operative who has more than once distinguished himself for his bravery, including personally participating in what has become know as the "Dirt Mission" before the Gulf War, in which he secretly flew 250 miles into Iraq to obtain soil samples for "composition tests," in order to ensure that armored vehicle columns would not become bogged down in soft soil.

He was also a key player in the incursion in Afghanistan.

During more than 36 years in the Army, he led the Night Stalkers, an aviation team born from the failed 1980 hostage rescue attempt in Iran that flies secret missions, often at low altitudes, in the dark of night. He headed the Joint Special Operations Command, a unit shrouded in secrecy that runs the "black" military missions of the Navy Seals, Army Rangers and Delta Force. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he directed the new Center for Special Operations, the military hub for all counterterrorism. And he ran special ops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now, Dailey, who retired in April as a three-star general, has stepped out of the shadows to take on a job that carries far less physical risk but may be no less trying. As head of the State Department's counterterrorism office, he will coordinate diplomats, intelligence officials and the military in the world's largest global counterterrorism effort.

In spite of the secrecy surrounding his many missions, it is also clear that he an aggressive, plain speaking guy who excels at fixing poorly operating units, and team building. Apparently, Dailey frequently asks subordinates to critically appraise his actions, "specifically asking for three things he should continue doing and three ways he could improve. "

In that respect, sounds like he might actually undertake to remove some of the fog from Foggy Bottom.

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