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2008 Distinguished Graduate Award

LTG Dell L. Dailey '71

For four decades, countless men and women have seen farther and clearer than they ever could have imagined because, to paraphrase Isaac Newton, they have stood upon the shoulders of a giant – one of those giants was, and continues to be, Dell Dailey.

The son of a career Army officer, Dell Lee Dailey has devoted his professional life to the ideals of character and service which later would be identified as those that distinguish truly great Americans.  Through his lifetime of service to the United States Army, the United States Department of State, and the United States Military Academy, Ambassador Dailey has been identified to the American public and to the broad West Point community as a most distinguished graduate, and someone who has brought great distinction upon West Point.

Lieutenant Dailey was commissioned in 1971 in the infantry, but over the next thirty-six years he served in progressively demanding troop assignments at all levels in conventional and special operations units, to include Ranger, Air Assault, Airborne, Mechanized Infantry, Armored Cavalry, and Aviation.  His Special Operations assignments spanned almost three decades, with multiple assignments with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and the 75th Ranger Regiment. General Dailey distinguished himself in campaigns in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Uphold Democracy, Joint Guardian, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom.

For three years, General Dailey commanded the Joint Special Operations Command, a unit shrouded in secrecy executing classified missions worldwide. The Joint Special Operations Command became the military hub for counterterrorism efforts immediately following the tragedy of 9/11 and was responsible for selected tactical special operations in Afghanistan and Iraq leading up to, and during, the introduction of conventional units into those countries. He directed the creation of a specific campaign strategy that effectively aided in dismantling the Taliban, allowing for the quick installation of legitimate Afghan leadership and the denial of sanctuary for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Later, he provided clear direction and leadership that effectively allowed special operations forces to penetrate Iraq, creating havoc and hastening the Iraqi forces’ downfall. These operations directly facilitated the attack of our main conventional forces on Baghdad.

As the Director of the Center for Special Operations, Lieutenant General Dailey's professional focus was not only on the military aspect of counterterrorism operations, but also on the need to deal with complex terrorist threats using all appropriate instruments of national power.  Under his leadership, the Center for Special Operations promoted interagency collaboration and built closer partnerships between military personnel and the members of other US Government agencies involved in global counterterrorism activities.  While most of General Dailey's duties were, and continue to be, classified, the Center's mission demanded the strategic and operational deployment of special operations forces to include Army Rangers and Green Berets, air combat controllers/para-rescue, civil affairs, psychological operations forces, Navy Seals, all kinds of aviation, and other cross-service military and para-military forces, who on a daily basis operated in the most demanding environments in service to our country.

Dell Dailey’s contributions to the national defense did not end with his retirement from the Army. Due to his extraordinary contributions to his country and the special operations community during times of significant terrorist threat and continuous conflict, he was selected by Secretary Rice to be an Ambassador-at-Large as the Coordinator for Counterterrorism for the Department of State.  His selection and confirmation recognized that no other individual in the United States possessed the breadth of experience or depth of character required to execute the duties and responsibilities. As the principal advisor to the Secretary of State on international terrorism matters, Ambassador Dailey is responsible for taking a leading role in developing coordinated strategies to defeat terrorists abroad and in securing the cooperation of international partners toward that objective.

A truly remarkable soldier, Dell Dailey has selflessly served our nation, our Armed Forces, and especially the men and women he has commanded with distinction. He was guided always by his sense of Duty to the accomplishment of the most difficult military missions while ensuring the wellbeing of his soldiers; the Honor of service while adhering to the highest standards of professional conduct; and a true love for our Country and the protection of our national security.

Accordingly, the West Point Association of Graduates of the United StatesMilitaryAcademy takes great pride in presenting the 2008 Distinguished Graduate Award to Dell L. Dailey.