Brig. Gen. James Lee Dozier, 50, was described as "a soldier's soldier" by his fellow officers last night as they discussed the irony of his being kidnaped by Italian Red Brigades while sitting in his living room in Verona, Italy.

The irony stems from the fact that Dozier is known as a tough soldier -- one whose combat record in Vietnam won him the Silver Star for bravery and three bronze stars for valor, along with the Purple Heart for being wounded.

A West Point graduate from the class of 1956, Dozier served with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. From there, he progressed from staff jobs to command, including becoming commander of the 2d Brigade of the 2d Armored Division at Fort Hood, Tex.

"He's a very solid citizen," said a colonel who knows Dozier. "He would be a problem for his captors." About 5 feet 9 inches tall, Dozier was described as tough, wiry and in top physical shape from unrelenting jogging.

One of his former officers said, "He's the kind of guy who, when he made B. G. brigadier general , everybody was happy that he made it -- soldiers, officers, everybody. If he called me up tomorrow morning to go to work for him, I'd go."

Dozier's style of leadership is low key and efficient, according to those who know him. He was not the kind of commander who demanded that his men police up the base on weekends just for show, they said.

"He's a family man and wanted his men to be that way, too," said one of his close friends last night. Dozier and his wife, the former Judith Stimpson, have two children, Cheryl, 24, and Scott, 23.

Cheryl is an Army lieutenant in West Germany and Scott is in college in Florida. The family considers the area around Arcadia, Fla., as home.

Shortly after being promoted to the one star rank of brigadier general, Dozier was transferred away from the life he loved with troops to the desk job as deputy chief of staff for logistics and administration at the NATO command in Verona.

It is unlikely he would possess any vital military secrets in that post at the command, which is run primarily by Italian officers.